I am beginning to suspect that it is surprisingly common for intelligent, competent adults to somehow make it through the world for a few decades while missing some ordinary skill, like mailing a physical letter, folding a fitted sheet, depositing a check, or reading a bus schedule. Since these tasks are often presented atomically - or, worse, embedded implicitly into other instructions - and it is often possible to get around the need for them, this ignorance is not self-correcting. One can Google "how to deposit a check" and similar phrases, but the sorts of instructions that crop up are often misleading, rely on entangled and potentially similarly-deficient knowledge to be understandable, or are not so much instructions as they are tips and tricks and warnings for people who already know the basic procedure. Asking other people is more effective because they can respond to requests for clarification (and physically pointing at stuff is useful too), but embarrassing, since lacking these skills as an adult is stigmatized. (They are rarely even considered skills by people who have had them for a while.)

This seems like a bad situation. And - if I am correct and gaps like these are common - then it is something of a collective action problem to handle gap-filling without undue social drama. Supposedly, we're good at collective action problems, us rationalists, right? So I propose a thread for the purpose here, with the stipulation that all replies to gap announcements are to be constructive attempts at conveying the relevant procedural knowledge. No asking "how did you manage to be X years old without knowing that?" - if the gap-haver wishes to volunteer the information, that is fine, but asking is to be considered poor form.

(And yes, I have one. It's this: how in the world do people go about the supposedly atomic action of investing in the stock market? Here I am, sitting at my computer, and suppose I want a share of Apple - there isn't a button that says "Buy Our Stock" on their website. There goes my one idea. Where do I go and what do I do there?)


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Please, please, please, I beg you:

Learn to touch-type. Learn to type with ten fingers.

Computer programs and websites to do this abound. If you find one that's horrible to use, find another. But persist until you do.

I am appalled at how many people I know who use computers typing for hours a day, and never learned how to drive a keyboard. They insist they're just as fast as they would be touch-typing (they're not), and then complain of sore fingers from doing weird stuff to adapt to their inability to type properly.

Anyone reading this site uses computers enough they should know how to type. I would estimate (based on my geeky friends I've seen at a keyboard) less than 20% of you can touch-type properly.

Set up your desk, chair etc per the handy how-to-avoid-RSI diagrams that one can hardly get away from in any setting. Then LEARN HOW TO TYPE. And don't make an excuse for why you're a special snowflake who doesn't need to.

By the way, when I discovered IRC big time (1996), it took my speed from 60wpm to 90wpm. Complete sentences, they're your friend.

My daughter is three and a half. She is already more skilled with the computers at nursery than the staff are. (Can get from the CBeebies games to watching Octonauts on the iPlayer in the blink of an eye!) I'm going to make sure she learns to type properly as soon as possible after she learns to read, dexterity allowing.

I've always been amused by the "magic feather" nature of my typing.

I don't touch type. I ask my brain about this, and it reports without hesitation that I don't touch type. Honest. Never have.

That said, I am perfectly capable of typing at a respectable clip without looking at the keyboard, with my fingers hovering more-or-less above the home row. I get screwy when I go after unusual punctuation keys or numbers, but when it comes to letters and commas and so forth, it works fine.

For several years, this only worked when I didn't notice it was working... that is, when I became sufficiently absorbed in what I was doing that I just typed. This became clear to me when a coworker commented "Oh, hey, I didn't know you could touch-type" and suddenly I couldn't.

It has become less fragile since then... I am typing this right now without looking at the keyboard, for example.

But my brain remains fairly certain that I don't touchtype.


Upvoting this did not seem adequate.

I would also like to tentatively suggest an optimized keyboard layout such as Dvorak or Colemak, since the inconvenience is minimal if you're starting from scratch, and there seems to be anecdotal evidence that they improve comfort and lessen RSIs in the long run, but if fretting about what layout to use causes you to procrastinate for even one day on learning to type already then you should forget I said anything.

Getting people to learn to type will be, however :-D


Yeah, there's a reason i didn't mention Dvorak or whatever ;-) So as not to put another "thing to do first" in the way. I know in person nobody at all who actually uses Dvorak. I can't think of any Dvorak users amongst online friends I haven't seen typing. (Perhaps there are some and they've just never said anything.)

I use Dvorak. It's no faster and no more accurate, but it does tire out your fingers a whole lot less, and just typing one sentence in Dvorak will enable you to see why. I switched to Dvorak after a bout of RSI, and the RSI never came back.

9Risto_Saarelma10yColemak user here. It didn't magically improve my typing speed as I hoped, top speed is 70 wpm and used to be the same with qwerty. I'm pretty sure it's more ergonomic to type with than qwerty, and I do have some wrist problems, so I'm going to stick with it. I don't think non-mainstream layouts are something people should feel obliged to adopt unless they are having wrist problems. Beyond the ergonomics, it's mostly a weird thing to learn for fun. Didn't like Dvorak because it makes you type 'ls' with your right pinky, and I type 'ls' a lot on unixlike command line shells.
5[anonymous]10yEliezer uses Dvorak [http://lesswrong.com/lw/hd/the_majority_is_always_wrong/], or at least used to four years ago:
7wisnij10yThere's a really interesting comparison of popular keyboard layouts and proposed optimizations here: http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/ [http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/] The author uses dynamic programming to calculate the various costs involved with typing (like finger movement, distance from home row, etc) and uses that to generate better layouts via simulated annealing. I thought it was a nicely quantitative take on a subject that is usually so subjective.

They insist they're just as fast as they would be touch-typing (they're not)

I would estimate (based on my geeky friends I've seen at a keyboard) less than 20% of you can touch-type properly

This seems like dogmatic adherence to tradition. Is there actually evidence that the traditional method of touch typing, where each finger is assigned a keyboard column and returns to the "Home Row" after striking a key, is at all faster, more efficient, or ergonomically sound than just typing intuitively?

I ask because I type intuitively with ten fingers. I know where all the keys are, and I don't see the need to return each finger to the home row after every single keystroke, which seems inefficient. If I type a common sequence like "er" or "th," I do it with a single flick of the hand, not four separate ones.

Also, I cover a much larger portion of the keyboard with my right hand than my left, because it's stronger and more natural for me than assigning each finger the exact same amount of keyboard real estate.

4TabAtkins10ySkilled touch typists certainly don't make four separate motions to type "er" or "th". Keyboards are specifically designed to accept multiple keys being pressed at the same time, because a skilled typist naturally presses the next key before they have finished the motion for the previous one. Nearly all keyboards will accept two simultaneous keypresses, with higher-quality ones accepting 3, 4, or arbitrary numbers of simultaneous keystrokes. To be specific, typing "er" involves lifting my hand upwards, hitting "e" and "r" with my middle and pointer fingers in quick succession, and then dropping my hand back down. Typing "th" involves lifting my left hand at the same time as I shift my right hand slightly leftwards, and striking the "t" slightly before striking the "h" (though I often transpose the two actions and end up typing "hte" or "htat").
6D_Malik10yUntil about a year ago I couldn't touch-type either. I fixed it painlessly by removing my keyboard's keys and reinserting them in random positions. This would only help you if you already know more-or-less where the keys are, but you're too lazy to go a bit further and type without looking at the keyboard. It works because looking at the keyboard no longer helps, and you have to keep your fingers on the home keys to keep your sense of where the keys are. If you manage to memorize the new letter arrangement, just rerearrange.
7handoflixue10yI find typing an entire sentence with my eyes closed is one of the best ways to develop good typing skills. It's really weird feeling myself correcting typos before I can svn see them. It also penalizes errors a lot more, and thus encourages a "get it right the first time" style of typing, instead of my usual "make mistakes and fix them" style. (Typed the preceding paragraph blind. "svn" is a typo for "even", and I was only aware I screwed it up ^^) It's also a fun "party trick" - I like to creep out co-workers by turning to listen to them and continuing to type :)
6Kaj_Sotala10yOne can get fast enough using intuitive typing that I would imagine that the main bottleneck would be the need to pause and think of what you're writing, not the speed of your fingers. Although it's frustratingly slow, I seem to have the impression that writing by hand sometimes produces higher quality (unedited) text, because you have more time to think about what you're writing. Of course, because it still isn't good enough without the edits you can really only do with a word processor, overall it's still an inferior choice.
7David_Gerard10yDepends. If I could type as fast as I talk, I would write more and better. (I write, speak and think pretty much identically. This is necessary to being a certain species of good writer.) Typing "cat>>tmp.txt" gives me a terminal where I can only add lines, not remove them. This gets me writing a first draft brain-dump pretty efficiently - to the point where I plug in a larger keyboard, because this netbook keyboard is too slow. (Need a Model M.) I've seen many authors say that writing in a medium where you can't go back and edit as you're writing gives better results, as you train your brain to get stuff right the first time. Also, typing a second draft completely afresh (rather than word-processing the first draft) gives good results. These are, of course, in the class of techniques for writers to try applying to see what works for them personally. Back in the olden days, before this "web" rubbish, my friends and I would write multi-page first draft letters to each other, rambling on about whatever rubbish (generally indie music).
5sfb10yIf you are reading this and want some typing practise: http://www2.ie.popcap.com/games/free/typershark [http://www2.ie.popcap.com/games/free/typershark] It's a "sharks are going to eat you, type the word on the side of them to kill them, get more, faster sharks and longer words as you progress" game.

I don't know if anyone can help me with this, but how do I tell the difference between flirting and friendliness? I grew up in pretty much total social isolation from peers, so neither really ever happened, and when they happen now I can't tell which is which. Also, how do you go from talking to someone at the beginning/end of class (or other activity) to actually being the kind of friends who see each other elsewhere and do activities together?

Edit: Thank you, this is good advice. Does anyone have any advice on how to tell with women? I'm bi, and more interested in women, and they are much harder to read than men on the subject, because women's behavior with female friends is often fairly flirty to begin with.

[-][anonymous]10y 35

It's not always this clear-cut, but if a guy touches you at all while he's talking (brushes your hand, etc.), makes an unusual amount of eye contact, or makes a point of being alone with you, it's flirting. If he's talking or joking about sex, it's more likely to be flirting.

How do you become the kind of friends who see each other outside of class? That used to confuse me SO MUCH. The easiest way to transition from "person I've spoken to" to "actual friend" is to say "You want to get lunch together sometime?" It's also possible to ask "are you going to event X?" (I used to find this step nervewracking. But remember, most people are not offended by offers of companionship. Most people want to make new friends.)

Also, notice how people hang around after an event. Most people don't leave right away, briskly. They sort of mosey and talk. If you're like me, your instinct will be to think, "Well, I'm done with that, time to go do something else." But more social people spend a colossal amount of time just hanging around, and they exchange more closeness that way. You can't make friends with people who only see you in brief bursts.

Well, that's the whole idea of flirting - that you can't really tell the difference. If it's clear and upfront, then it's not called flirting anymore, but rather an advance (friendly or more explicit).

You have a lot of uncertainty arising from a simple gesture/look/invitation, and (I believe) this is where all the fun really comes from: dealing with a lot of different scenarios that have very similar initial contexts but have a wide range of possible outcomes, and choosing the outcome you want with so little effort.

I also believe that your ability to tell the difference between one person's flirting and friendliness is strongly influenced by how well you know that person.

http://www.wrongplanet.net/ is a community page for asperger/autism people that contains social descriptions on a level that might be helpful. I do not read too much of it, but maybe it is useful.

There often is not any difference at all between flirting and friendliness. People vary very much in their ways. And yet we are supposed to easily tell the difference, with threat of imprisonment for failing.

The main effects I have seen and experienced, is that flirting typically involve more eye contact, and that a lot of people flirt while denying they do it, and refusing to to tell what they would do if they really flirted, and disparaging others for not knowing the difference.

My experience is also that ordinary people are much more direct and clear in the difference between flirting and friendship, while academic people muddle it.

yet we are supposed to easily tell the difference, with threat of imprisonment for failing.

It can be hard to tell the difference, and it can be easy to mess up when trying to flirt back, but it takes rather more than than simply not telling the difference between flirtation and friendliness for imprisonment. There has to be actual unwelcome steps taken that cross significant lines.

The way the mating dance typically goes is as a series of small escalations. One of the purposes this serves is to let parties make advances without as much risk of everyone seeing them turned down, and lose face. It also lets people make stronger evaluations and back out in the middle gracefully.

Flirtatious talk is not an open invitation for a grabby hands. It is an invitation for further flirtatious talk. It may be an invitation for an invasion of personal space and increasing proximity. This in turn can be invitation for casual, brief, touches on non-sexual body areas. The point of no return, where it's hard to gracefully back out and pretend nothing was happening, is usually the kiss. That's usually done as a slow invasion of space, by the initiator, who must watch for the other to either... (read more)

That's usually done as a slow invasion of space, by the initiator, who must watch for the other to either lean in and take position, or lean and turn away.

If you're reasonably confident in the other person's interest, simply announcing "I'm going to kiss you now," followed by a brief pause, works quite nicely, signals confidence, builds anticipation, and still gives them the opportunity to back out.

6HughRistik10yAnother version: "I'm thinking about kissing you", and offering your cheek.
9NancyLebovitz10yIf you need verbal feedback, you're probably better off finding out fairly early whether the person you're flirting with is comfortable with questions or not.
5Raemon10yWhat I'm particularly frustrated about is not telling the difference between flirting and friendliness (the line is blurry and that's okay) but when specifically it's okay to escalate to physical touching.
4wnoise10yI'm afraid this isn't going to be helpful, but like everything else, it depends. Touches too can straddle the line between friendliness and flirtation, and mere physical contact needn't be an escalation at all. A glancing contact with someone's hand when passing them something isn't. Prolonging that contact is. Clapping someone on the shoulder is usually just friendly, but adding a squeeze intensifies that.

and that a lot of people flirt while denying they do it

Or without even realising. Several years ago an acquaintance on whom I was developing a crush told me she was aware of this; this puzzled me since I thought I hadn't yet initiated anything like flirting, so I asked how she knew. Then she took my hand and replicated the way in which, a few days before, I had passed her some small object (probably a pen). I didn't realise I was doing it at the time, but in that casual gesture I was prolonging the physical contact a lot more than necessary, and once put on the receiving side it was bloody obvious what was going on.

how do I tell the difference between flirting and friendliness?

Flirting is tinged with sexuality, either explicit or subtle. Maybe a touch on your arm, a wink, or innuendo. A lot of it is context-dependent, as well: for instance, the exact same words and behavior can be flirting when a guy says it to a girl, but not when a guy says it to a guy (the social default is that everyone is straight; this is different in a gay bar, for instance).

Also, how do you go from talking to someone at the beginning/end of class (or other activity) to actually being the kind of friends who see each other elsewhere and do activities together?

You have to actually be active and ask the person for their phone number, invite them to get coffee, go bowling, whatever. It doesn't always work out -- you may not meet up with 90% of them -- but the other 10% will become your friends.

An incidental note: lack of these sorts of skills can also create ugh fields around the subjects or surrounding subjects.

4Nornagest10yQuite. Now that I think about it, I suspect this might be causally related to several social anxiety problems.
4sark10yWell, they say some people are better at public speaking than at socializing. Note such people know what to do when public speaking, but they still have no idea what to do in social situations. So the procedural skills we are talking about here may not actually help with social anxiety per se. It might help one deceive oneself into thinking so though.

After having about 50 different housemates, I'm shocked by how few people have basic home-maintenance knowledge. Things like:

  • Change the oil in your car every 4000 miles.
  • Don't mix colored and white laundry and then set the temperature to "hot".
  • Remove the lint from the dryer screen before each load.
  • Don't put wool clothes in the dryer and set it on "hot".
  • Change the air filter in your central heating every few months.
  • Wash the stovetop after cooking with grease.
  • Use dishwashing detergent in the dishwasher.
  • Don't put knives or pots with metal/plastic or metal/wood interfaces in the dishwasher.
  • Don't put tupperware in the dishwasher lower rack.
  • Don't fill the dishwasher lower rack with pots so that no water reaches the upper rack.
  • Open the fireplace vent before starting a fire.
  • Wash the bathtub sometimes.
  • Knives must eventually be sharpened.
  • Turning the thermostat up extra-high does not make it get warm faster.

Don't put knives or pots with metal/plastic or metal/wood interfaces in the dishwasher.

Don't put tupperware in the dishwasher lower rack.

The others were obvious to me, but I don't understand these two. I've been disobeying them for a long time without any problems.

Tupperware runs the risk of melting close to the heating element. Metal and plastic/wood expand at different rates in dampness and warmth, so the interface can weaken if they're washed in the high heat of the dishwasher. That said, you can usually get away with both of these things.

7chronophasiac10yMost tupperware should be "dishwasher safe", meaning it's been tested to high temperatures and won't melt even in the lower rack of the dishwasher. The real problem with putting tupperware, or indeed any plastic container, in the bottom rack is the water jets. The jets shoot out of the aerator (that's the plastic spinny thing on the bottom), and will blow light objects around the dishwasher instead of scrubbing them out. Putting tupperware on the top rack restricts their movements.
[-][anonymous]10y 10

Most tupperware should be "dishwasher safe", meaning it's been tested to high temperatures and won't melt even in the lower rack of the dishwasher.

I think there is vocabulary confusion happening here.

Real Tupperware -- the expensive stuff -- is nigh-indestructable. Some of it is made out of polycarbonate, the same material used for windshields in fighter jets and in presidential limos. At the thickness used in the Tupperware line, it is not quite bulletproof, but it is still very, very tough. You don't have to worry about it in the dishwasher.

Lower-end Rubbermaid plastic containers are much cheaper and not made out of the same material. (Rubbermaid does have a "premier" line that is supposedly comparable to true Tupperware.) These bins should not be placed in the lower rack of the dishwasher.

7wedrifid10y(Or replaced with our lifetime stay sharp guarantee!)


Those are not called "knives", those are called "saws".

We (family) got some knives at marriage, and just sort of puttered along. Then I bought her some "good" knives, which arrived fairly sharp.

Oh. My. Sourdough bread in SLICES instead of ragged hunks.

Then we used them for a couple years, and I realized that since these were low-end "chef quality" knives (I'm not a chef. I don't much care about cooking, and I don't talk shop with real chefs, so that may not be an accurate statement, but the reviews I read indicated that these were as good as MUCH more expensive knives except in maybe the quality of the handle), that maybe we should get them sharpened, so I found a place in STL that had a knife sharpening service for local restaurants and went there.

They refused to even consider sharpening our steak knives. The guy called them "cheap junk". So we bought some of of the same brand as our other knives (basically the cheapest he had in stock). (Victorinox "Fibrox")

Oh. My. Steak is SO much easier to deal with now. Bread (on the rare occasions we have it ) cuts cleanly. Tomatoes and oranges can can be sliced as thin as you want. Limes for your gin/vodka? Clean cuts.

Knives are tools. Tools need maintenance or replacement.

5JoshuaZ10yOk. I confess that this one more than any of the others makes me seriously worry about how good my theory of mind is. How do they think their heating systems work?

They think that the furnace burns at a different temperature depending on how high the thermostat is.

Couldn't it just be an erroneous application of (an intuited version of) Newton's law of cooling, which says that heat transfer is linearly proportional to heat difference? They assume that the thermostat temperature is setting the temperature of the heating element, and then apply their intuited Newton's Law.

Seems pretty rational to me.

This is actually implementation dependent. Though the most common implementation of a thermostat is just an on-off switch for the heater, it is possible to have a heater with multiple settings and a thermostat that selects higher heat settings for greater temperature differentials.

Also, turning the thermostat up extra-high means that you don't have to go back and make the temperature higher if your initial selection wasn't warm enough.

Even with an ordinary thermostat, cranking it up can be effective in some realistic situations. If some corners of the house take longer to heat up than the location of the thermostat, they'll reach the desired temperature faster if you let the thermostat itself and the rest of the house get a few degrees warmer first. Or to put it differently, scoffing at people who crank up the thermostat is justified only under the assumption that it measures the temperature of the whole house accurately, which is a pretty shaky assumption when you think about it.

As the moral of the story, even when your physics is guaranteed to be more accurate than folk physics, that's still not a reason to scoff at the conclusions of folk physics. The latter, bad as it is, has after all evolved for robust grappling with real-world problems, whereas any scientific model's connection with reality is delicately brittle.

That's an important lesson, generalizable to much more than just physics.

5MichaelHoward10yThis general point is seriously deserving of a top-level post.

Since about 50 years ago all but the lowest-end thermostats are designed to be "anticipators" — they shut off the heat before the requested temperature is reached, then gradually approach it with a lower duty cycle. More often than not, the installer doesn't bother to fine-tune this, in which case it can take a long time to reach equilibrium. Turning it a few degrees warmer than you actually want isn't a completely stupid idea.

(reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermostat)

Do you actually think a typical person has a coherent theory of how a heating system with a thermostat works?

It's a very human and intuitive way of thinking. People bundle together various things that seem like they should somehow be related, and assume that if something has a good or bad influence on one of these things, it must also influence other related things in the same direction. When you think about it, it's not a bad heuristic for dealing with a world too complex to understand with full accuracy.

5[anonymous]10yI would imagine it's simply an application of the extremely general (and useful) rule of thumb "if doing something has an effect, doing it a lot will probably have a lot of that effect".
4BillyOblivion10yDepending on the type and size of the heater relative to the area to be warmed that statement could very well be false. I have lived in some places where turning up the heater produced much hotter air than at a lower temperature, which would heat a house much more quickly. These houses had relatively modern central air conditioning systems with electric furnaces, or really good gas furnaces. I've also lived in places with radiators or really crappy wall mounted heaters where it wouldn't make any difference at all.
4MartinB10yArent these self correcting? I would expect to make this mistake only once. The combining factor seems to be an ignorance into how things work, and how to maintain them. At least that is my observations of flatmates..

I wish I knew how to politely and nicely end conversations, either with friends, strangers, whatever.

There is also the somewhat related problem of how to transition from pleasantries and chit-chat to the real point of the conversation when someone calls you on the phone. Sometimes people can stay in this mode for several minutes, and it's hard to convey the message "So, why are you calling me?" in language that is socially acceptable. My solution--which I believe I borrowed from Randy Pausch--is to say, in a friendly tone of voice, "What can I do for you?"

Thank them for their time, sincerely, making sure the beginning of the statement acknowledges the value of the current thread of thought ("that's absolutely fascinating...and thank you for sharing that with me") and make sure your tone of voice descends at the end of the sentence; if they respond with confusion at this abrupt ending (it may appear so to them) let them know why you must go now or soon.

If your reason is impolite ("you're a boring jackass") you may wish to omit what you specifically think of them (the reasons why you think they are a jackass may have less to do with them and more to do with you and how you see the world subjectively, it's something that needs to be checked out at some point) and simply indicate that you are in disagreement with them and that you lack the time and energy to properly present your position and that you may or may not get back to them later.

Works 5/6 of the time.

I don't know how polite or nice it is, but what I generally do is wait for it to be my turn in the conversation, visibly react to a timepiece of some sort, and claim an appointment or pressing task that requires my attention. "Oh, geez, is it that late already? I'm sorry, but I really do have to (get going, do X, finish what I'm doing)."

I've known some people who are oblivious to this and essentially reply "Sure, that's fine. Say, let's talk about this other thing!" I find them troublesome. The best solution I know is firmness -- "No, I'm sorry, but I really do have to work on something else now."

In one particularly extreme case, I actually had to say "I need you to go away now," but by that point I'd given up on polite.

9DanielLC10yPoint behind them and say "Look, a three-headed monkey", then run away.
8lionhearted10y"I've got to head out soon, anything else going on?" For more formal/professional occasions, "I've got to head out in about 10 minutes, anything else we need to cover?"
5KrisC10yMake them laugh and walk away. The laughter distracts them long enough for you to get far enough away that you are not in conversational proximity. Even a chuckle is sufficient. As an added bonus, people who are not introspective will often hold opinions based around the last emotion they experienced in your presence. I don't think this method is polite, but it seems to work pretty well.
8NancyLebovitz10yHow do you make people laugh?
6KrisC10yYeah, I walked into that question. Inducing laughter in general is too big a question to answer, but I will explain the technique. As background reading, I would recommend Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Mostly because it validates my belief that humor is often cruel. Really it is great reading for any alienated smart person. I tried to observed my actions today as I used humor to escape conversation, and I was conscious of using the technique five times. I have concluded that actual clever wordplay or other comedic art is not necessary. While I have gotten in trouble for not "speaking like a human" before, this conversational strategy seems surprisingly effective at work or office situations (US, east coast). * Do not attempt this technique in situations when you can not guess at the social hierarchy or on solemn occasions. * Be adequately certain that the dominant member of the group you are trying to escape from is not disagreeing with you. * Demonstrate through tracking eye movement, reactive micro-expression, and body stance that you are engaged in the conversation. Failing that, watch the mouth of the person speaking focusing on the formation of words and sounds. * Wait for a pause in speaking, lean forward and start to smile with the edge of your mouth and eyes. * Magic part: Any inane thing you say will be taken as a joke. It's the setup that triggers the response allowing the escape. If you don't want your listeners to think you a moron, say something sarcastic or hyperbolic about yourself, about the topic being discussed if it is innocuous, or about the task you are going to perform. Remember not to step on their memes and to respect their status hierarchies. * Walk away at a leisurely pace if you want. If they are laughing with you, you may want to stay. Well, at least I tried to answer the question.

Thanks. This reminds me of something I've found which works well in the short run. I admit I haven't checked for long term consequences.

It makes me crazy when people repeat themselves in short succession. If you listen, it's possible to discover that Waiting for Godot is more realistic than a lot of more interesting theater.

Hypothesis: People repeat themselves if they aren't sure they're being heard, or, oddly (and I've done this myself) if they're unsure of how what they're saying will be received.

Solution: Smile at the person and repeat back what they said. Your body language is "I was so interested I remembered what you were saying" not "I heard it already and I'm bored".

Observation: People stop repeating that particular thing. Yay!

However, they tend to seem a bit taken aback, though not hostile. I don't know to what extent they feel comforted and heard and possibly surprised because they weren't expecting that, and to what extent they've been embarrassed that their amount of repetition has been noted.

3[anonymous]9yI have worked hard to stop doing this. As a teen I'd often repeat something when it wouldn't provoke a response. This is silly. I now realize that 9 out of 10 times the other person heard you perfectly well, so repeating what one said is counterproductive. Also I've figured out that I should be louder. Everyone knows that one person who nobody likes because ze is too loud, but being too quiet is low status. Awesome I've tried this and it totally works. Thank you!
5sixes_and_sevens10yWhat kind of issues do you have at present with ending conversations? How is your current technique deficient?

I'm mystified as to how to shave smoothly without cutting myself and without razor burn. I've never been able to accomplish all three of these in one shave. (This is facial shaving I'm speaking of, as I am male). Not shaving is not an option, as I quickly develop a distinctly unfashionable neck-beard whenever I neglect shaving.

Update, one year later: I can report that shaving during a warm shower with no shaving cream has increased the smoothness of my shaves, has drastically reduced shaving cuts and has eliminated razor burn almost entirely. Thanks, Less Wrong!

I had the same problem, but it went away immediately after one simple change: stop using shaving cream. Instead, just apply warm water before you shave (it helps to do it after a shower). Before I made the change, my face was always irritable the day of a shave, and exercising would make it flare up; now, nothing. (Having a good multi-blade razor still matters though.)

I was pointed to this idea by some article by Jeffrey Tucker on lewrockwell.com sometime in '06.

5David_Gerard10yI second this. Shave in the shower. I haven't used soap or shaving cream in years. My skin is happier too.
6Matt_Simpson10yThis [http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/6886845] article is supposed to be a life changer when it comes to shaving. I haven't tried all of the suggestions, but the ones I have tried have improved my shaving experience.
5Clarity199210yWhile I've never had serious problems shaving such as you describe, I did find it a humungous bore and wholely unsatisfying until someone on Hacker News linked to this guy's videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qSIP6uQ3EI [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qSIP6uQ3EI] What made the real difference for me was going from multiblade razor with can of shaving foam, to multiblade razor with shaving oil, to multiblade razor with shaving soap and a proper brush, and finally that but with a neatening up afterwards using a single blade disposable. That final solution gives me a close shave and leaves my skin feeling lovely. I actually make the time to have a proper shave every day and really look forward to it!!! YMMV, but like all hygiene stuff experimenting with new techniques is pretty useful..

How to Buy Stocks

First Option:

  1. Acquire at least $3,000 in a checking account, and grab your account number and routing number. (It's written on the bottom of your checks.)
  2. Go to Vanguard.com and open an account.
  3. Buy into VTSMX, the total market index fund, or VFINX, the S&P 500 index fund. If you have trouble picking, flip a coin; they're very similar funds.

Second Option:

  1. Go to Sharebuilder.com and open an account. They shouldn't require a significant starting balance, but might.
  2. Sign up for automatic investing to take advantage of dollar cost averaging.
  3. Buy VFINX or VTSMX.

Third option:

  1. List out what you know about a company.
  2. List out what the market knows about that company.
  3. If your knowledge is better than the market's, then proceed. Otherwise (including if you don't know how much the market knows), go to option 1.
  4. Go to your bank and read about their brokerage accounts. If the fees aren't excessive (check Sharebuilder and other banks and stuff like etrade), open a brokerage account, or go to option 2 and open a Sharebuilder account.
  5. Transfer money to your brokerage account.
  6. Plan out your trades: under what conditions will you buy a stock? (not "the price now is o
... (read more)
7Unnamed10yWhy the S&P index (VFINX) and not the Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX [https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0085&FundIntExt=INT]), which has broader coverage and the same expense ratio?
3Solomonsk59yHow to Buy Stocks Note: This is just nuts and bolts. Any terminology you may need can be found on Investopedia. 1. Have a bank/checking account 2. Sign up with any of the many online stock brokerage sites(ScottTrade, Ameritrade, Sharebuilder,etc.) 3. Send the broker an initial deposit of funds. (You'll require your routing and account numbers. You have to transfer funds to the broker, who needs this money to purchase your stocks.) The usual minimum is $2000 but can be as little as $500.00. 4. In trade section, you'll need to input the company's stock symbol, #of shares to be bought, and the order type. 5. Click Review order and double check you've made the right selections. 6. Finalize order. Shameless Plug: If you happen to fancy Scottrade, I can be listed as your referral so we can both benefit from free trades. Referred by: SOLOMON KNOWLTON ReferALL code: OPRH6640

2 deficits of my own come to mind. I didn't learn the alphabet until middle school or so; I covered up my ignorance by knowing pairs of letters and simply looking it up whenever I needed to sort something. (In middle school I realized how silly this was and studied diligently until I could finally remember the alphabet song. For years after that, whenever I needed to know something, I would mentally sing through the alphabet song until I had my answer.)

Until 2 years ago or so, I didn't know the 12 months of the calendar. I got around this by generating a bunch of month flashcards for Mnemosyne. (The cards should be obvious, but if anyone really doesn't know how that would work, I can post them.) I'm still a little shaky but I more or less know them now.

These 2 methods may not be generally applicable.

Wait; singing the alphabet song is still how I order letters. Is there a more efficient way?

I had a Hebrew teacher who assigned the following exercise on the first day of class: Memorize the alphabet backwards. Once the pupils knew the alphabet backwards and forwards, we were able to look things up quickly in the dictionary.

I became much more familiar with the Latin alphabet after I performed the following exercise: Type out every two-letter string, in alphabetical order. This was laborious because I didn't know where the keys were on the keyboard; perhaps that contributed to its effectiveness.

8Alicorn10yInquiry seconded. I have a vague sense of whether certain letters appear early or late in the alphabet (I don't need to sing to know that B comes before X) but for any finer-grained distinctions I need the song.
7Benquo10yYou could memorize the numeric values of the letters (A=1, B=2, ... , Z=26); if you can figure out which number is bigger without counting, you can figure out which letter is later. Disclaimer: I have not actually done this, because memorizing 26 separate, individually useless items is a pain.
9D_Malik10yI did this a few years back while bored at school, and it has actually been surprisingly useful. I find the easiest and quickest way is to try to write the number in a way that makes it look like the letter; eg for H imagine drawing two lines above and below to make it look like an LCD 8. Using this I thoroughly memorized the letters' numbers in about 15 minutes. You'd need to periodically rememorize to keep the numbers fresh, though.
6false_vacuum10yThis is fascinating! I've been told I memorised the alphabet before I was a year old... But it wasn't until I was in college that I finally memorised which hand is called 'left' and which one is 'right'. (Never had an analogous problem with compass directions.) A possibly related deficit is that I typically think of the wrong word first when I want to name a colour; i.e. for example I want to refer to purple and I have to choke off the impulse to say 'yellow'. And yet I have letter/colour synaesthesia! Brains are weird.
5TobyBartels10yA middle-school history teacher once had me memorise the classical Greek alphabet (without diacritics or ligatures, just the 24 uppercase and lowercase letters, including both lowercase forms of Sigma) 4 at a time. Each weak, I'd recite the entire alphabet up to what I had learnt, completed after 6 weeks. This was largely useless for history but has been helpful for me as a mathematician. I learnt the modern Hebrew alphabet in high school, using a song (to the tune of Frère Jacques) that a Jewish friend had learnt in shul, but I really only learnt the names. Later I learnt the Russian alphabet by brute force; now I'm back to Hebrew and working (but not hard) on getting the shapes of the Jewish script.
5FAWS10yI'm curious: Do you generally have unusual trouble with memorizing ordered lists compared to other people? Do you remember when/how you learned to count, for example?
4Risto_Saarelma10yFinnish has separate words for the intermediate compass directions, northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest are "koilinen, kaakko, lounas, luode". There's no pattern to the words. I still can't automatically match directions to these words, the only way I remeber them is from having learned to list them along the clock face and working back and forth using that. Finnish also has separate words for the various types in-law relatives such as 'lanko' or 'käly'. I have no idea which is which. I remember other people in my high school English class complaining about not knowing what the Finnish words mean when discussing in-law vocabulary. Finnish month names don't come from Latin like the English ones do. Most of them have some common Finnish word as their root, but 'maaliskuu' and 'huhtikuu' for March and April both have nonsensical-sounding root words and are right next to each other, so I still have to think a bit sometimes about which is which.
5Bongo10yLUKO LOKA

Not to be annoying (as I often have questions like this as well), but I've found that Google is remarkably helpful in answering those questions. In fact, I tried two of the example questions and the answers seemed very reasonable to me:



I also use Google's suggestions (ie, by typing into Google Instant or Firefox search bar) to help phrase my question in the most common way, or to provide alternative related questions that might be more what I mean. For example, when typing "how to buy stocks" it suggested:

"how to buy stocks with out a broker"

"how to buy stocks online"

"how to buy stocks for beginners"

How does a heterosexual male begin a long-term romantic relationship with a heterosexual female? Be sure to cover such issues as pre-requisites and how to indicate what intentions and when.

[For balance, others can post the dual (which is not necessarily the same) question for the other categories of people.]

[-][anonymous]10y 111
  1. You have to put yourself in environments where you'll be able to interact with a lot of women. College is in a lot of ways set up perfectly for this: if you're not in college right now, consider joining a class or an activity group. Try to make it one where the gender balance will be in your favor. Book groups are one example--they're wildly tilted towards women (I suspect men just, you know, read books, and don't tend to see the value in sitting around sipping coffee and talking about reading books). But if you like girls who wear glasses, try finding a congenial book group. You'll probably be the only man.

    Even better than book groups, though, are dance classes. Swing and rockabilly aren't super trendy anymore, but the scenes still exist in a quieter way, and these classes are great for single men: a) they're filled mostly with women; b) dance is an inherently flirtatious activity, and the physical leading/following dynamic is one that many women find very sexy; c) even if you don't find a date in that class, you'll have learned an attractive skill, and you'll be able to participate in events that will introduce you to more women; and d) physical exercise is good for building b

... (read more)

Lots of good advice here.

One change I'd make is that, imo, a movie makes a poor first date. Do something fun and active where talking is possible, instead.

This is excellent advice, and I up-voted it. However:

If she seems annoyed or condescending or whatever, try to shrug it off; just smile and say "okay, no problem" or something along those lines. Do the same thing if she says "I'd rather just be friends." (But for the love of Pete, do not spend a lot of effort trying to actually cultivate a friendship. Moooooove on.)

I may just be reading too much into things, and I acknowledge that this comment is written primarily as a response to the question "how to get into a relationship". Nevertheless, this bit bothers me a bit, as the "for the love of, don't try to actually cultivate a friendship" part seems to imply that there's no point in being friends with women if you're not going to have a relationship with them. That strikes me as a bit offensive.

Even if we're assuming that you're purpose is solely to get women, I don't think befriending lots of them is as useless as you seem to suggest. You say yourself that one's friends may introduce one to somebody one might be interested in. People tend to have more same-sex friends than opposite-sex friends, so being friends with lots of women will incr... (read more)

Befriending women is sometimes useful for becoming attractive to other women. (Allow me to skip the obligatory part where friendship is good in itself, of course it is, but I want to make a different point.) For example, you can ask them to help you shop for clothes, relying on their superior visual taste. Most of my "nice" clothes that I use for clubbing etc. were purchased this way, and girls seem to love this activity. Also they can bring you to events where you can meet other women; help you get into clubs; offer emotional support when you need it; and so on. If you make it very clear that you're not pursuing this specific girl sexually, being friends with her can make quite a substantial instrumental benefit.

That said, of course I don't mean the kind of "friendship" that girls offer when they reject you. That's just a peculiar noise they make with their mouths in such situations, it doesn't mean anything.

[-][anonymous]10y 13

Sorry, that line wasn't clear. If you'd truly like to be friends with a particular woman, then by all means, be her friend! What I'm specifically counseling inexperienced men to avoid is the pitfall where they befriend a woman when they really want to be her boyfriend, and then spend a lot of time pining after her fruitlessly.

And I did mean it when I said, "It is true that established friendships can make a wonderful basis for romance..." My husband was my friend first, so I'm not knocking these kinds of relationships at all. However, it'll either happen or it won't; if there are strategies for making it happen, I don't know them; and I don't think hoping it will happen is a good strategy at all for men specifically looking for a relationship. My impression is that ending up in "the friend zone" with a woman you want to date is a fairly common failure mode for inexperienced men, so I advise SilasBarta to take some care to avoid it. I may have stressed that part too heavily.

There's a big difference between "If I approach someone for a date, and s/he rebuffs me, it's best not to spend a lot of effort cultivating a friendship with that person" and "It's never worth cultivating friendships."

Yes, making friends is worth doing. Agreed. And if it so happens that the person I'm making friends with is someone I'd previously wanted to date, great! I have numerous friends in this category, and some of them are very good friends indeed.

But even with that in mind, I mostly agree with siduri.

Mostly that's because I know very few people who can make that decision reliably immediately after being turned down. Taking a while to decide whether I'm genuinely interested in a friendship with this person seems called for.

[-][anonymous]10y 11

I also meant the "spend a lot of effort" part to act as a qualifier, since for me true friendships tend to develop spontaneously and easily, in contrast to a situation where I'm actively courting the other person and they're kind of pulling back. In my own life, I've learned it's better to just let those second kinds of friendships die in the bud.

However, I recognize on reflection that for more introverted people, developing any friendship probably takes significant effort--so advice along the general lines of "if you have to push it, it's probably not meant to be" is actually probably bad advice for a lot of people. Instead, I think the question should be "would you be satisfied with friendship alone, if nothing further ever developed? Would the friendship be a source of happiness to you, or a source of frustration and pain?"

I just don't think guys should spend the time and energy being friends with women if friendship isn't truly what they're after. In a case like that it's much better for them to focus their attention on other women, who might reciprocate.

9bigjeff510yI believe the point is that if you want a romantic relationship with a woman, cultivating a friendship with her in the hopes that romance will develop is almost always a bad idea. Occasionally such romance sparks "out of the blue", but more likely nothing will ever happen, and it is a huge investment of time and emotion that basically never pays off. So if you aren't interested in the woman for the sake of friendship alone, it is better to just forget about her and move on. If you find a person interesting and worth being friends with, by all means don't reject such an opportunity just because the person is a woman. That's idiotic. It's just a terrible dating strategy, that's all.

You have to ask women out on dates.

This is not strictly true from my experience. I've had three girlfriends thus far and in all three cases, we were basically just friends who eventually realized we wanted to date one another. Of course, all three were also housemates, so I may be an odd case.

I've tried the "ask women out on dates" approach from time to time, but keep coming back to the impression that I'm the sort of person who just slides into romantic relationships with friends, and that if I want more romantic relationships, I need to make my social circle -- not my circle of acquaintances, but my circle of folks I see on a daily basis -- more generally co-ed (kind of a problem since it's mostly folks I know from Singinst/Less Wrong these days).

Or become bisexual. If anyone posted a procedural comment on how to become bisexual, I would upvote it immediately =)

The way to become bisexual is to regularly extend your exposure to erotic stimuli just a little further than your comfort zone extends in that direction. I'll use drawn pictorial porn as an example erotic stimulus, but adapt to whatever you prefer: start with Bridget. Everyone is gay for Bridget. Once you're comfortable with Bridget, move on to futanari-on-female erotica, male-on-futanari, then futanari-on-male, paying attention to your comfort levels. You'll run across some bizarre things while searching for this stuff; if any of it interests you, just go with it.

By now, you should be fairly comfortable with the plumbing involved, so it's just the somatically male body you need to learn to find attractive. Find art featuring bishounen types, then pairing them with other male body types, and pay attention to what feels most comfortable.

It may take a while to go through this process, but I believe it's entirely achievable for most people who don't view heterosexuality as a terminal value.

The Bisexual Conspiracy commends your insidious efforts at propagating memes advantageous to us and has sent you several HBBs of assorted gender orientations by overnight delivery.

7Kaj_Sotala10yI suspect how well this works probably depends on exactly how hetero- or homosexual one was from the beginning. (I'm basing that on personal experience with regard to both bisexuality and various fetishes.) Instead of a strict straight/bi/gay split, I prefer to think of it as a spectrum where 0 is completely straight, 5 is completely bisexual and 10 is completely gay. I'm guessing it's possible for you to shift yourself a couple of points towards the middle of the spectrum, but not an arbitrary amount. E.g. if you started off at 0 you might shift yourself to 2, or if you started off at 8 you could shift yourself to 6. I'd also note that there's a difference between sexual attraction and emotional compatibility. I'm rather mildly bisexual and using these techniques, could probably become a bit more so. But my main issue with pursuing same-sex relationships is not the sexual attraction as such, but the fact that I find it a lot easier to relate and connect to women on an emotional level. These techniques probably wouldn't help in that.

Instead of a strict straight/bi/gay split, I prefer to think of it as a spectrum where 0 is completely straight, 5 is completely bisexual and 10 is completely gay.

Hah! You're trying to squish two axes into one axis. Why not just have an "attraction to males" axis and an "attraction to females" axis? After all, it is possible for both to be zero or negative.

4Strange710yI would say there are more than two axes which could be meaningfully considered, here. Male and female body types, personalities, and genitals can exist in a variety of combinations, and any given combination can (in principle) be considered sexy or repulsive separate from the others. For example, there are those who prefer [feminine/curvy/penis] having sex with [masculine/buff/vagina] over all other thus-far-imagined pairings.
4Cyan10yDimension reduction [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimension_reduction] is not automatically an illegitimate move. That said, I grant that in this case it's worthwhile to keep at least two axes.
8TheOtherDave10yI would be surprised if the kinds of gradual-exposure techniques khafra endorses here for making same-sex partners more erotically compatible didn't work equally well (or poorly) for making them emotionally compatible. Of course, in that case you wouldn't want to use erotic stimuli. I'm not exactly sure what stimuli you would use, because I'm not exactly sure what you mean by relating and connecting to people on an emotional level... but whatever it is, I suspect you could test khafra's approach by identifying specific activities that qualify, and then looking for the closest thing to that activity involving men that you find easy, and attending to that thing. Let me stress here, though, that I'm not asserting you ought to change anything. There's nothing wrong with being heterosexual, and there's no reason you should feel like your heterosexuality diminishes you in any way.
8Kaj_Sotala10yUmm, no. To make erotic stimuli more attractive, it's enough that you think about the stimuli often enough and learn to like it. It may be slow, but there's relatively little risk. Learning to bond and relate to the kinds of people you've always had difficulty bonding and relating to requires you to open yourself up to them in an attempt to connect with them. At worst, you can end up embarassed and hurt and have an ever harder time trying to connect to them in the future. It's also a lot more complex, since it's not enough to modify your own reactions. You also need to learn how to get the right responses out of other people. I'm not saying it can't be done, or that you couldn't apply similiar techniques as you would to developing an erotic attraction. But those are techniques are only a small part of it, and it's a lot harder.
5Desrtopa10yBy this metric, I started at a zero (unable to find other males sexually attractive,) and ended at a zero. My attempts to influence myself to have a sexual interest in men achieved null results. I have no problem finding other men attractive, but they're still about as sexually appealing to me as plants.
7oliverbeatson10yI wonder how much this would work for a homosexual male. I've actually been trying this essential thing, although with less persistence as it requires a certain amount of effort to attend to something that just seems so immediately boring to myself. Perhaps living in a hetero-normative culture ensures that when a man decides that he's gay, he is more likely to have discovered a roughly immutable biological fact?

Two related thoughts come to mind.

One is that male anatomy is more familiar, and therefore presumably less intimidating, to straight men than female anatomy is to gay men.

Another is that in a heteronormative culture, men who aren't strictly monosexual are more likely to identify as straight than as gay. If what this technique actually does is make men who aren't monosexual more aware of their non-monosexuality, then I'd expect it to get more noticeable results on men who identify as straight. (I'd also expect there to be a wide range of effectiveness among straight-identified men.)

Despite subcultural normativity being strongly biased against bisexuality, really quite a lot of gay-identifying men have experimented with heterosexual behaviour, but are - ha! - closeted about it.

6Nick_Tarleton10yI take it this is a process that's worked for you?

Accidentally, but yes. I've also seen it work on other people who frequent /b/, both for bisexuality and many paraphilias.

heh, I had a suspicion that /b/ had something to do with this

5ata10yWithin the nearby cluster in personspace: I think Robin Lee Powell has said that he chose to become bisexual, if you want to ask him to elaborate on that process. :) (I've gotten a bit more bisexual over time, and I occasionally wonder if I actually pushed myself in that direction (since I remember wishing that I could be, as early as 14 or 15), or if that's just the direction I was drifting in anyway and I happened to be open to it in advance. But it's probably hard to tell in retrospect.)

b) a lot of women have trouble saying "no" directly (we're socialized not to).

I cannot possibly stress enough how non-obvious this is to "geeky" males.

6Blueberry10yI don't think this is accurate. People generally don't say "no" directly. It's not a matter of gender socialization, it's just how language works. A direct "no" is seen as rude [http://books.google.com/books?id=FSjEnDrb8QcC&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=saying+no+rape+linguistics&source=bl&ots=JsWPD-MCR3&sig=AbtqFD1jEtVT7PIBanZ3BFz2vlI&hl=en&ei=e-RRTf-_J4jSsAPTvIThBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false] , and refusals are usually couched in vague or tentative language. [http://modusdopens.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/just-say-no-linguistics-in-real-life/]

Is it purely a numbers game though? Most people have this thing nerdy academics call a 'mate value sociometer' and they use it to help decide how hot a female to pursue. Of course, this sociometer has to be calibrated, so you really want to be rejected often enough to know where you stand. My point is, it might be better to keep this sociometer in mind (especially since non-neurotypicals tend not to have this instinct), to at first target your proposals to be as informative as possible, and then later on target those girls your mate value can buy. (this is in fact what studies have found neurotypicals to be doing)

8David_Gerard10yIt's not purely a numbers game. However, it really helps if you can interact with a number of people that's at least in double digits. Get used to meeting new people. It's good for you. You grew this great big brain to do chimp-chimp interaction better, after all - you have an aptitude for this sort of thing. MEET MORE PEOPLE!
5sark10yIf someone takes my point as an excuse not to meet people, that person is wrong. Because that is not what it says at all. And also, meeting girls and meeting new people are not quite the same. Though the point does apply to the latter. Perhaps you are saying people already adjust their expectations in light of their successes and failures, in which case my pointing out that sociometer point does more harm than good.
6David_Gerard10ySorry, I was speaking more generally of "dating as numbers game", not disagreeing with you. I find many people who worry about the idea of a "numbers game" see that as a problem rather than an opportunity. I must note that I am almost pathologically gregarious and outgoing myself, and have an unfortunate habit of offering unhelpful advice on such to those who aren't - and if I seem to you to have done that, I most sincerely apologise.
5[anonymous]8yI'm approximately 97% sure that at least one of the next five people I'll meet will be a woman. I'm also approximately 100% sure that at least five of the next five women I'll meet will be people. :-)
6[anonymous]10yI mostly agree with this, although I suspect it might be more complicated than a single hot-or-not scale. Like, indie rock chicks are looking for a different kind of dude than cheerleaders are. Both the indie rock chick and the cheerleader might be blazing hot, but they're going to pick out different boyfriends. So if a guy is making a lot of passes at certain kinds of girls and getting nowhere, perhaps he should consider targeting girls who are closer to his own "type."

This seems like very good, thorough, general advice. However, I wonder how many of us (heterosexual males reading Less Wrong) have romantic preferences that are as general. I realize that the "reading Less Wrong" part of that descriptor wasn't specified in the question, but it seems implied.

In general, a heterosexual man might describe the set of his potential romantic partners in the following way: a woman whom he finds physically attractive, with whom he shares interests, and with whom his personality is compatible. (That the woman is currently single is also important for many, including myself, but I recognize that it's less general than the former three, given the existence of polyamory/fidelity.)

However, for myself, I would add to this a fairly strict qualifier, that the woman is an atheist. I simply don't feel that I would be able to be emotionally intimate with a woman who holds an irrational, i.e. religious, worldview. Atheist doesn't necessarily mean rationalist, but religious almost definitely means irrational, i.e. P(rationalist|atheist) >> P(rationalist|religious), and even more so for P(would be open to rationality|atheist). I find it to be a sound heu... (read more)

6[anonymous]10ySo this is an interesting challenge. My first thought is that it's actually a challenge shared by theists--Mormon men who want a Mormon wife, for example--but these people share a whole social structure (their religious community) that is already working to bring them together. Without this, atheists do face a special hurdle. Wow, those numbers are high. Yes, when you're limited to 14 percent of women, general dating strategies become a lot less useful. Other groups faced with numbers like these have to create (and advertise among themselves!) special spaces for meeting and flirting. (I'm thinking about gay bars now.) I hope others can suggest more, but the only one I'm coming up with is political activism. If you are in the U.S.A., you could look for events put on through http://secular.org/ [http://secular.org/] or any of the Member Organizations [http://secular.org/member_orgs/]. Even though men are more likely to be atheists, women are more likely to be volunteers [http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/newsroom/releases_detail.asp?tbl_pr_id=402] , so you may find that the gender balance evens out.
4ChristianKl10yThe reason to go into environments where you interact with a lot of women isn't only an issue of having a lot of opportunities. It's also a matter of practice. Even if you don't like to date the woman at a dance class the class will still teach you basic skills about interacting with women. If you don't have the practice with regularly interacting with women than you are unlikely to have success when you find a woman who would be a good match because she fulfills your criteria.
4CronoDAS10yIt's probably a little bit easier if you don't live in the U.S.; the U.S. is unusually religious when compared to other First World countries.
4sfb10yFrom reading your whole comment, it seems this: would be the easiest bit to change to remove the problem from your life.

I'm not interested in a relationship in which I can't interact honestly with the woman, because I wouldn't find it to be fulfilling. I'd rather be single than have to tiptoe around my romantic partner's irrational beliefs. Changing that implies either ceasing to care about rationality, or dramatically lowering my expectations for a relationship. Neither of those sounds particularly appealing.

9SilasBarta10yThanks, this is what an informative answer looks like.
6PaulWright10yEven better than book groups, though, are dance classes. Amen to that. I'd add a slight caution that chemistry generated on the dancefloor can sometimes just be about the dancing, and telling when it is more than that is possibly an advanced skill. So, as this Mefi comment says [http://ask.metafilter.com/172378/On-Facebook-you-can-be-friend-or-strangers-no-acquaintances-or-colleagues-or-jilted-fiancees-allowed#2480810] , don't push your luck on the dancefloor itself. Workaround: ask after the class or when you're standing around chatting (assuming you don't dance all the time). Don't be the guy who asks everyone in turn: the women talk to each other :-) EDIT: I elaborate on what I mean by this below...
5[anonymous]9yThis can backfire if you live in a small town. [http://www.inmalafide.com/blog/2010/06/09/when-you-shouldnt-play-the-numbers-game/]
6[anonymous]10yIf anyone figured out the asexual variant of this, I'd love to know, too. (Gender shouldn't matter that much.)

If anyone figured out the asexual variant of this, I'd love to know, too.

Alas, asexuality among humans is notorious for making it difficult to form long-term romantic relationships.

(Gender shouldn't matter that much.)

When it comes to following protocol it is matters more what it is than what it should be. The various permutations of gender and romantic preference do matter that much. (And looking at things as they are instead of how they 'should be' is probably step one.)

There are a number of web sites that present such implicit and procedural knowledge. such as: http://www.ehow.com/ http://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page http://www.howcast.com/ http://www.howtodothings.com/

I might be useful to somehow select the most generally useful ones of these in one place.

I haven't come across any of them except eHow. eHow is awful. Useless. Bad. I have ended up there unwittingly from google searches a half dozen times or so. Not once has it answered what I wanted to know. The information on their site is optimised to be written as quickly as possible while getting the best google rank possible, with no thought as to quality of information.

4knb10yHuh. I use eHow and WikiHow all the time, and always find it incredibly useful.
7bayleo10yeHow is frequently accused of being a content mill. I switched search engines to DuckDuckGo when the founder announced he was dropping eHow and all other Demand Media properties from his results (Blekko has also dropped them). eHow articles are cranked out by paid writers who typically know very little about what they are writing, resulting in a lot of completely inadequate explanations. WikiHow, on the other hand, is a genuine wiki (go ahead; edit it) which rivals Wikipedia for process-oriented queries.

Principles for growing long hair:

  • It takes a long time. I've been growing mine for fourteen years, and it was at least seven before it was long enough to be at all remarkable. Growth rates vary, and mine isn't all that fast (4-5 inches a year), but it may be a long time. Don't get fed up and chop it all off.
  • Stop doing damaging things. No more blow-drying or coloring or straightening or curling. Minimize the amount of product you put in. Never tease your hair.
  • Get trims. A half inch trim every three months or so will take off the split ends and make your hair healthier.
  • Conditioner is your friend. Use it liberally. As your hair gets longer, less of it will have any exposure to scalp oils. Be sure to condition all of your hair, not just the ends. I always brush my hair with the conditioner in it before I rinse. This makes sure the conditioner is evenly distributed and there are no tangles.
  • Braid your hair before sleep to prevent tangles, and brush gently. Work knots out patiently, don't just tear through them.
  • Don't wash your hair every day. Every other day is plenty for hygiene purposes, and more often is hard on your hair.
  • Once your hair is too long to brush in a si
... (read more)

Great link, especially this quote from Part 2:

One probably could not devise a better system for keeping people with humanistic values away from power than by confining them to decade-long graduate programs with a long future of transient adjunct positions making less than the minimum wage.

7[anonymous]10yI agree. The odds are very much against you. And I say this as someone who likes the humanities and admires humanities professors. If you have incredibly strong evidence in your favor that you're a special case, go for it, though -- but it should be incredibly strong evidence. It's possible that it's easier to publish a philosophy book than to become a philosophy professor, if you're good at networking. Or to get some attention for your ideas through podcasts, etc., which you're already doing. If your goal is to do and write philosophy, optimize for that -- it's a different goal than becoming a professor.

I recently found myself thinking about this same topic. I have figured some of these out by trial and error, but feel that some formal training would have been useful (others I have not encountered):

  • How should you interact with a police officer - what are your obligations, your rights, and how should you conduct yourself?

  • If you want to move from one residence to another, what steps should you take? If you are credentialed in one state and want to move to another, what do you do?

  • If you get into a minor car accident, what should you do? What about a major one?

  • What's the best way to quit your job?

  • How do you vote in an election? A primary? What should you do if you want to run for office?

  • If you find that someone has died of non-suspicious and natural causes, what steps should you take? Whom should you call?

How should you interact with a police officer - what are your obligations, your rights, and how should you conduct yourself?

I'm a law student. I'll take this one. This applies to the US specifically, though being polite and deferent are probably universal.

In short: TL;DR answer: Be polite, calm, and friendly. If you are guilty of a crime, admit nothing, do not give permission to search anything that would be incriminating, say that you don't want to talk to the officer (unless answering extremely general questions), and, if you are detained, ask to speak with a lawyer. Be more compliant if you are innocent, but if you get the slightest hint that they think you're responsible, stop complying and ask for a lawyer if detained. For more mundane interaction (i.e. speeding tickets) be polite and deferent, and don't confess to anything unless they totally have you nailed. Arguing with cops will very rarely advance your case; save that for court if you care enough to challenge the ticket. More detail follows.

In minor cases (e.g. speeding tickets), you generally want to be polite, deferential, and honest, but probably don't volunteer too much information, except insofar as it's obvious.... (read more)

Especially if you are guilty, you should ask if you are free to go, and if you are not, ask for an attorney. This is advisable even if you are innocent if the crime is significant.

I want to emphasise this. The prisons in the U.S. (and probably most countries) are full of people who believed that they were safe, despite being suspected, due to their innocence. Remember, innocence is no excuse if they find you guilty anyway. (This is even true after the fact; new evidence of innocence is not enough to get a new trial, as long as your rights were not violated in the old one, according to the Supreme Court.)

I'm just gonna add: Say "Sir" all the time. It really calms them down.
He asks you a question? ("have you been drinking?") Say "Yes sir" or "no sir"
"I stopped you because you were speeding" - "I'm very sorry, sir"
and so on. This has saved me countless times.

Must-watch with regard to the police: Why You Should Never Talk to Cops, parts one and two.

(US-specific, but a lot of the general content is probably applicable worldwide.)

6TobyBartels10yIf you don't know which, just ask. Note that being detained is less serious than being arrested.

I do not have health insurance currently. I could obtain health insurance, but that's not my question.

How often is it appropriate to go to a doctor or general health person (in the US), if I think I'm mostly okay, and how much should I pay? How do I control how much I pay rather than setting up an appointment without mentioning price and allowing them to charge me? How do I find someone based on their skill/price rather than choosing randomly or following a recommendation from a friend?

8MartinB10yOff the top of my head: Visit the dentist regularly, like once or twice a year for a checkup, or whenever a reason pops up. Problems with teeth should be taken care of ASAP, otherwise they grow big. The normal doctor needs no regular visits. (For females the gynecologist might be useful regularly, for males there is no equivalent yet.) You should take care of vaccinations. Some like the flu are done annually, others in much rarer sequences like every 10 years. If special once are recommended in your region your doctor or some kind of health information center will know. If you have special reasons to do an occasional checkup you probably know about that already. Like: I am a vegetarian and have my blood levels checked every few years. If you are generally healthy no visits are necessary. For people above a certain age some general prescreenings are recommended. I dont have the numbers here, and they differ by country, but that generally only starts at 35 or more. I don't bother my doctors with minor illnesses that go away on their own, like the cold. But sometimes do go there with seemingly minor stuff that does not go away on it's own. As a preparatory measure you could find out where your next general doctor, and the next emergency room is and how to get there. It probably pays to take care of oneself. After all we only have one body to run with. No information on payment rates since I live in another place.
6qsoc10yThere are a couple of ways you can ballpark how much you should be paying. You can look up what Medicare pays here [https://catalog.ama-assn.org/Catalog/cpt/cpt_search.jsp]. To use that you'll need to know the appropriate CPT code(s), which is not easy. If you're a new patient just going for a check up, you probably want 9920[1-5]; for an established patient, you want 9921[1-5]. The range from 1 to 5 varies by how "complex" the medical decision making is and how comprehensive the examination is. You can also go to a site like healthcarebluebook.com to look up the prices. I think their goal is to report what a private insurance company might pay, so the numbers are somewhat higher. It also gives some tips on how to negotiate the payment if you don't have insurance.
5TobyBartels10yWhen calling for prices, tell them that you have no insurance and offer to pay on the day of service (assuming that you can), then ask what kind of discount they can give you. Sometimes you won't even have to ask.

Dealing with serious clutter-- the kind of situation where the house has never been in good order and there isn't any obvious place to put most things.

Sometimes I take a crack at it, but there's so little progress and so many non-obvious decisions to be made.

The key point I have discovered in my own recent massive household declutter:

Distinguish "generally useful" or "potentially useful" from actually useful.

No, you'll never eBay it. No, you'll never wear that shirt or those boots. No, you'll never fix that laptop. No, you'll never get around to finding someone who really wants it. No, that weird cable won't actually ever be used for anything, because it hasn't been used in the past five years. No, you'll never get around to taking it to the charity shop. No, it may be a shame to throw out something so obviously useful, but it's a curse. No, you never did any of these things in the past so there's no reason to assume you will in the future. No. No. Stop making bullshit excuses. JUST NO.

Get a big roll of garbage bags. Delight in having so many full bags of discards that your bin overflows.

You have to be utterly uncompromising. Set the "when did I last use this?" to one year. Anything unused in longer than that better have a REALLY EXCELLENT justification.

If you swear you're going to eBay it, give yourself one week to do the listing. If it's not done, throw it out.

A very helpful method is to have someone els... (read more)

Sounds like the "outside view" approach to cleaning. It seems to me the “really excellent justification” heuristic could be generalized into expected value, with some danger of overfitting—something with infrequent but important use like a fire extinguisher might earn its place just as easily as a bic pen you use twenty times a day.

I think it's more generally the phenomenon Paul Graham talks about: stuff used to be valuable and people didn't have much of it; these days, it's actually not of value and most people have too much of it. That is: we're all rich now, and we don't know how to cope with the fact.

It's moving up to a better class of problem. Like how Britain has a major health problem in 2011 with poor people being too fat, whereas in 1950 food was rationed. It's a great problem to have. Though it's still a problem.

Yes, it really helps to get in an outside view - the friend to help and berate you - until you get the proper visceral loathing of stuff.

9fiddlemath10yI think this explains a lot of it. Another part is that people don't think about the costs of owning stuff: it occupies your space, you have to keep it organized, and you have to move it around whenever you move. These costs are easy to ignore, because they aren't in mind when you're thinking about buying a specific thing. The mentally-available facts are "what will I get by using this?" versus "how much money does this cost?" Similarly, when you're looking for stuff to get rid of, it's hard to bring those costs back into light, because they're so general to everything you own I don't have lots of stuff, and I'm pretty willing to get rid of stuff or give stuff away. I think this is largely because I highly value my space, my attention, and my time, and I've practiced being sensitive to those values when I'm making decisions about stuff.

"you have to move it around whenever you move."

Usually I'm adverse to reducing clutter, due to the cost of going through, organizing it, and throwing away most of it. Every time I move I end up losing a huge chunk of my stuff because suddenly it's much cheaper to throw it out instead of moving it :)

6soreff10yGood point. My heuristic is to say: My house cost $100/ft^2. A $2 knickknack with a square foot footprint really costs $102.
4Ian_Ryan10yBut could you really have saved $100 by having decided to buy that same exact house except without that extra square foot?
6fiddlemath10yProbably not. But, if you had rather less stuff, you could have probably bought a pretty similar house with one fewer closet for a few thousand less.
5juliawise10yThis. My housemates and I needed a three-bedroom apartment instead of a cheaper two-bedroom because some of them have so much stuff. Especially large furniture.
3soreff10yYup, also, the incremental cost of space in a self-store unit is of the order of $1/month-ft^2, say $240/ft^2 capital cost at a 5% annual rate - and that is a true incremental cost. The more severe approximation is ignoring which items stack well and which don't, and ignoring the additional costs of maintaining the items, keeping track of them and so on.
[-][anonymous]10y 11

Paul Graham's essay Stuff talks about the problem. He lists books as an exception. THEY ARE NOT AN EXCEPTION. Be as ruthless with your book pile.

Better yet, get a Kindle.

9David_Gerard10yI'd love a Kindle if it wasn't a hideously locked-down proprietary money funnel. I'm waiting for something with an eInk screen that just opens documents if I put them on it, in whatever format. I've wanted something like that to read PDFs with approximately forever. I already don't read my paper books. I'd rather download a PDF than read the book that's on the shelf just over there. This appears to be unusual amongst my friends.
7[anonymous]10yThe Kindle 3G has native PDF support. It also supports .mobi ebooks from any non-DRM'd source. (And most other formats can be converted to .mobi using a program like Calibre.)
6Risto_Saarelma10yI got my hands on a Kindle a year back, and it just opened PDFs and text documents I put on it using it as an USB drive. Amazon even provided an app [http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000234621] for rolling your own Kindle-format ebooks from hypertext files, which you could again just plop on the Kindle over USB. My main problem was that the regular Kindle was too small for viewing technical article PDFs full screen. I can already use my smartphone for reading stuff that's easily reflowable, like most fiction. The Kindle DX should be better for this, but I haven't had a chance to try that.
5ruhe4710yThere are other e-readers that have far less stringent requirements for getting books. The Nook and Kobo are an example (as are the Sony E-Readers). I have a Nook and have yet to purchase any books from the Barnes and Noble store. I constantly put DRM free books from Project Gutenberg on it and just placed the Less Wrong sequences on it as well. There are also FLOSS programs for editing PDFs to make them easier to read on an e-reader. A little research goes a long way!
7Alicorn10yThrow stuff out/give it away. Lots of stuff. If you have two of it, or don't really like it, or plan to replace it soon and won't need it till then, get rid of it. Completely clear out some place, like a closet or a drawer or a shelf - do this by putting its contents in obviously inappropriate temporary locations, like on a bed, if necessary. Decide from scratch what belongs in this place. Put those things there. Repeat with the next space. If you don't have a way to efficiently use the space, buy an organizer of some kind suited to what you plan to put in. (Wire racks, drawer dividery things, bookends for open-ended shelves, etc.)
4Sinal3yDon't know if anyone still follows this 7 year old thread but- I strongly recommend Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The gist is you declutter by category of item instead of by room: first do all of the dishes, then do all your clothing items, then books, etc. For instance, to declutter your closet, take out all the clothes and sort into two piles: clothes that make you happy and clothes that don't. I've also found that goodwill will accept lots of different kinds of items not just clothes. And remember, it's not about becoming angry about all the useless garbage you have in your house, but about choosing to keep what makes you happy and being surrounded by lovely things that you appreciate.
4MartinB10yLeo Babauta from zenhabits is a good source to go to. Decluttering was a personal struggle for me, that I think to have handled now. Here my current model for how to de:clutter. Note that I mix actual experience with theory, also some might not be universally applicable. Also I don't know which points to elaborate on and which are obvious. Preface: Order is a process, not an end state! Much progress is achieved early on. Like optical decluttering the visible areas, when everything is nicely boxed up. (80:20 principle) Tools: I use stackable plastic containers like these [http://www.ajprodukte.at/Produkte/Lagersysteme_Boxen/Plastikboxen/Plastikbox/462923-61079.wf] . The important factors are the volume that allows to store all kinds of things, transportability by hand, and the possibility to stack them onto them self. Lots of garbage bags. (Get some of the big ones, some the smaller once9 Tape [http://www.google.de/images?q=kreppband] that can be written on + marker pens. It might be a good time to install more shelf space Timing Depending on your schedule you can use like half an hour each day, or some hours once or twice a week to attack it, and make as much progress as possible. Use a kitchen timer. Get family involved if applicable. Target areas Choose a room, or an area smaller than a room to attack. Common rooms or your own are best. (I think that parents should not clean up their kids rooms, safe for fire and health hazards.) If you are into planning, make a list of all areas and their order, so you can cross them off. Find out which parts of the process give you pleasure and optimize accordingly. (Some people find it helpful to know exactly which steps to take, some get anxious from it. It helps to know which one you are.) Maybe clean floor space first. And tables. Depending on level of entropy you can go in one swipe, or do multiple rounds. Methodology Put everything that is obviously to throw away in a garbage bag. Put everything else into

Just want to throw this one out:

Choosing the right size for a collared shirt (men) : Look at the seams that run from the collar down the neck and along the tops of your shoulders to the beginning of the arms. When you try the shirt on, that seam should reach exactly to the point where your shoulders curve downwards. In this case the shirt will accentuate the broadness of your shoulders.

5jwhendy10yAnother good idea is to go somewhere you can try shirts on (if you don't have one) and find one you like (seams at shoulders, wrists covered but sleeves not ruffled) and look at the size. If worn with a tie, the neck should button and not be tight, but you should not be able to fit more than one finger in between the shirt and your neck, otherwise a tie will cause the neck to crumple when tightened. Memorize or write down the size of the shirt, given in a neck measurement (inches, like 15 1/2) and a sleeve length (inches, and often a split value like 32/33). This will help if you enter a department store where the shirts are bagged and not easy to try on. Look for your size (neck + sleeves) and hope for the best. These numbers are good to know, as neck sizes may be sold with wide sleeve ranges (30/31, 32/33, and 34/36), and those buckets make a huge difference. Lastly, find a particular brand that seems to fit well, if you can. I shop a lot at thrift stores and am of a narrower frame and really have a hard time finding 15-15 1/2 necked shirts with the right sleeves that aren't very "blousy" (where once tucked in, there is a huge "balloon" of shirt sticking out in the back). Pay attention to labels like "classic fit," "modern fit," or "athletic fit." Classic and athletic tend to be slimmer/tapered, and modern tends to be more of a static width, extending the width at the armpits down to the bottom hem.

No, nor that they print their own names. They just have to sign their names and date the signature. It's also a good idea to have each of them initial every (numbered) page of your will; this proves that no pages have been inserted or deleted.

When I first started asking how to write a will, a couple of years ago, the best advice I got was to write the will myself — because this is free — and then reread it in a few months. Repeat this process until I couldn't think of anything to add or change. Then visit a lawyer and have them translate it into legalese.

I believe there should be a subject in school (and text books to go with it) that goes through all the things that adult citizens should know. I believe this was part of what was called Civics but that is dead or changed to something else. The idea is somewhat dated but it included things like how to vote, how to read a train schedule, that different types of insurance actually were, simple first aid, how to find a book in a library and all sorts of things like that. Today it would be a slightly different list. Somewhere between 10 and 14 seems the ideal age to be interested and learn these sort of things.

I agree. I've also long held a different but complementary view: that all establishments should (hopefully, out of the goodness of their hearts) put up signs that basically say, "this is how it works here".

(For example, at a grocery store in the US, the sign would say something like, "This store sells the items you see inside that have a price label by them. To buy something, take it with you to one of the numbered short aisles [registers] toward the exit and place it on the belt. If you need many items, you may want to use one of the baskets or carts provided near this sign. The store employee at the register will tell you how much the item costs, and you can pay with ...")

While most of it would be obvious to everyone and something parents automatically teach, everyone might find some different part of it to be novel. And I suspect that this easily-correctible "double illusion of transparency", in which people don't think such signs would convey anything new, prevents a lot of beneficial activity from happening.

This is particularly helpful for anyone new to the area - immigrants, emigrants, tourists, etc.

As I live in Germany I have experience with such rule sets. People don't follow them and instead do whatever they consider to be the obvious thing to do.

Our public transport system has for example the rule that you should stand on the right side of an escalator if you choose to stand.
If you choose to walk the escalator you take the left side.

It's a smart rule and it would be in the public interest if everyone would abide by it. It would make life easier for those who choose who walk the escalator. Normal people however don't care and simple stand wherever they want to stand.

Introducing a formal rule set when people are used to following informal rules is hard.

7RichardKennaway10yIn London, the same convention is in effect on the Underground. Unlike Germany, it is almost always followed, and enforces itself. If you stand on the left, it won't be long before someone walking will ask you to step aside to let them pass. There are notices here and there asking people to do this.
7SilasBarta10yThe idea is for the sign to describe how it in fact works, not necessarily how they'd like it to work. (A sufficiently detailed sign might explain the distinction, potentially allowed for coordinated punishment of defectors.) That's why I mentioned the bit about "the goodness of their hearts". It would probably require a law because of the problem of people stating outright how something "really" works. (I've been to the Hauptbahnhoffs btw -- "links gehen, rechts stehen" is the phrase, right?) I agree -- so the idea instead is to have a sign that can quickly teach people this informal system, since it may be so hard for a newcomer to infer it.
6TheOtherDave10yHuh. Would you similarly endorse putting a link up on the front page that explains that "this website displays user-generated content, both in the form of discrete posts and in the form of comments associated either with a post or another comment. To view a post, click the title under "recent posts." To view comments... etc. etc. etc."?

Maybe not specifically that, but I recall a lot of new users (and regular users, and critics of users...) complaining that they don't know e.g. what kinds of comments are appropriate to post under articles, what the pre-requisites for understanding the material and generally stuff that we might just assume they know.

LW does have a good "about" section, though.

It needs a "how to use the site" section. When the envelope turns red, it means you have a reply or a message. The help link at the bottom of the comment box will tell you how to do formatting, but it's different formatting methods if you post an article.

There may be useful features on the site that haven't crossed my path. Finding them seems to be a semi-random process.

5tenshiko10yCivics, at least in my area of the United States, is mainly education about government and ethics. I do believe they may discuss how to vote and other information that would be useful to the democratic process, but nothing like going onto trains. (Although in the United States, this could only ever discuss the subway, and only in certain metropolitan areas - culturally, the elegant train is dead here, which is sad, since I've had much more positive travel experiences on trains than planes.)

I am terrible at remembering names. This is bad in itself, but exacerbated by a few factors:

  • I regularly have lengthy conversations with random strangers, and will be able to easily summarize the conversation afterwords, but will have no recollection of their name.

  • I am fairly noticeable and memorable, so even people whose names I have no reason to know will know mine.

  • I am not particularly good with faces either.

This isn't a memory problem, I can quote back conversations or remember long strings of numbers. I often cope by confessing to my weakness in a self-deprecating manner, or by simply not using names in direct address (it's generally not necessary in English), but these don't actually help me learn names. If I remembered to ask their name early on, I sometimes pause mid-conversation to ask "Are you still x?" but that is somewhat awkward and I'm wrong half the time anyway. The only time I can reliably remember is if they share the name of an immediate family member.This is bad enough that I'll sometimes be five or six classes into the semester and have to check the syllabus to figure out the professor's name, or will have been in multiple classes with someone and shared several conversations and still not know their name.

Thirding the request.

I have sometimes contemplated taking out my frustrations by following people around to learn their names, scrounging up any background material on them that I can get, and then pretending to be an old high school acquaintance of theirs, and watching them squirm as they try to remember me.

I'm not entirely certain people aren't already doing this to me.

6TheOtherDave10yPeople have done this to me. I was amused. In general, I avoid claiming to actually remember people if I don't, but I'm happy to engage with them as though we were old friends if they are engaging with me that way. If it turns out that we don't know each other, well, I've been friendlier than our relationship obligated me to be, which is not a big problem.
4mindspillage10yMe too; nothing wrong with it and some people will be positively impressed with how friendly you are even to people you barely know! Also, being straightforward and not embarrassed to ask someone's name again helps. A simple "I'm sorry, but I've completely forgotten your name; could you remind me?" is usually not too awkward unless you've met often enough that you should be expected to remember. (Also, I am in DC, which is a very business card-exchanging area; remembering getting the card and seeing the name after being introduced is very helpful.)
9SRStarin10yWhen I started running study groups in college, the training included teaching how to learn student's names. The trick to remembering names is to say the name out loud, with focus on the name and the person at the same time. So, Joachim introduces himself, and you say "Joachim? Nice to meet you, Joachim!" Give the name and face enough time to sink into long term memory. If they don't introduce themselves, ask them their name, simply apologizing if it turns out you've met before. Then, at the earliest good opportunity, reinforce the name. Using it during the conversation is good. Any time the topic goes in a new direction, or you or your interlocutor have a new idea, you say "So, Joachim, I have another way of looking at that..." or "Joachim, that is an excellent point." This is totally normal, but might not feel that way to a person who doesn't use names frequently. Finally, it is minimally awkward to, at the end of a conversation, say to the person "Well, Joachim, it's been so good talking to you!" Or, if you've totally lost the name, say with a smile "I've enjoyed talking with you so much I've managed to forget your name!" And they will be quite pleased to remind you. Not using people's names is like a microcosm of this thread--if you don't use the name, rightly or wrongly, you won't get affirmation or correction. That all works if you have the capability of recognizing people but just have not practiced it. But you say specifically that you're not good with faces. A large number of people are partially or completely face-blind [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia]. Many (maybe most) don't realize they have differently functioning brains from the majority of people when it comes to faces. They often recognize people by their distinctive hair color or facial hair, by particularly large or small noses, chins, etc, or even in some cases, by learning the wardrobes of people they are frequently around. I read about one fellow with 4 young children and he is
7Elizabeth10yIt wasn't until a couple of years ago that I first consciously noticed that I was incapable of using other people's names to their faces. I could do it with immediate family, and I could do it in third person "Howard was telling me..." I have since made strenuous efforts to get better at it, but it is still really psychologically difficult. That's also when I realized that it was almost impossible for me to leave a message on an answering machine. I'm working on that one too, but doing so is a serious effort. One of my roommates my freshman year of college had the same issues, but neither of us had a clue why.
8sixes_and_sevens10yAt the beginning of 2010 I made it my mission to remember the names of everyone I was introduced to. I haven't quite managed everyone, but I've gotten pretty close. My technique: when someone tells me their name, I think of something that rhymes with it, and imagine the person in conjunction with the rhyme. I have a general policy of picking the first thing that comes to mind, since that presumably suggests my brain already has some sort of reliable connection between them. For example, when meeting Sam for the first time, I will think of the first rhyme for 'Sam' that comes to mind, which in the case of a recent Sam was 'ham'. I imagine Sam holding some ham, with a big grin on her face (she has quite a striking grin anyway, so this detail just sort of cements it in place). When I next meet Sam, I will have a striking image of her holding some ham with a big grin on her face, which I can then follow back to her name. Over the past year or so I've built up quite a menagerie of associations. All people called Sue are now in a large group of Blue Sues in my head. Anyone called Vicky is covered in something sticky. Anyone called Kate has an expression of hate. Sometimes I have to reach for tenuous rhymes. 'David' was a bit of a tricky one, but I eventually settled on 'shavéd', and imagine Davids to have a partially-shaved scalp. If anything, the more tenuous rhymes are more memorable, because I also have the memory of the difficult rhyme to hang the name off. This does occasionally create some odd effects. Last September, for example, I know I met two people called Amanda, but can only remember one of them. The act of remembering their name has persisted in memory, but actually meeting them hasn't. The most important aspect isn't the actual technique (as there are plenty of other name-remembering techniques out there which presumably work fairly well), but getting into the habit of using it. It doesn't do any good just knowing it; you have to consciously choose to
5[anonymous]10yI remember names after I've seen them written in association with the face. I remember unusual names better, because I can ask the person then and there how to spell it. So for anyone with whom I speak rarely, I basically only consistently remember the names of facebook friends. Method: Add people on facebook immediately after meeting them. Then review the RSVP list before going to any events with an events page!

the procedure here is how to consistently feel better after a few weeks (vs typical lazy cheap diets)

breakfast, buy:

  • plain (unsweetened) yogurt
  • honey
  • fruit (bananas or whatever berries are on sale)
  • granola (again, unsweetened)

dump together in bowl and eat. if you don't feel hungry in the morning just do a very small serving at first.

lunch: whatever, avoid sugar/white bread

dinner, buy :

  • rice-a-roni red beans and rice when it is on sale (goes to 75 cents a box once every couple months at my local store)
  • bell pepper (or spicier pepper to taste)
  • olive oil

boil, then simmer 20 minutes

yes, this procedure can be improved upon. the advantage of this one is low activation cost as it is about as difficult as the regular bachelor diet of instant foods. if you're trying to eat healthier but can't find the motivation this is a decent compromise.

major thing to avoid besides the obvious: fruit juice and fruit flavored anything. you're subverting your body's desire for actual fruit. fruit juice is no better for you than soda.

I'm guessing this is mostly preaching to the choir here, but if this helps one person it was worth the 5 minutes.

9Alicorn10yAnother easy healthy thing: Just about any vegetables can be boiled till soft, then put through the blender, salted and peppered to taste, and yield soup (cream is optional). A quartered peeled onion, half a bulb of peeled garlic, and a quartered peeled potato or two, plus a fair amount of peeled and roughly chopped whatever else (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, turnips, fennel, leeks, celery root or stalks, whatever) is a good template. Dump it all in a pot with water or stock. Boil till it'll smoosh against the side of the pot when pressed with a spoon. Blend. Salt & pepper.
6Psychohistorian10yLess appetizingly, but probably more nutritiously, most green leafy vegetables can be blended with water or milk and consumed in milkshake form. I'll often take three or four cups (that's a lot) of spinach and blend it with two cups whole milk and chocolate protein powder. This actually tastes good, if not delicious; a portion half that size is probably a solid amount of food for most people. Even without the protein powder or other flavoring, it is drinkable. Lower portions of vegetables give you better taste for less nutrition. Not a great culinary feat, but a very efficient way to improve diet quality, and eating vegetables raw is probably more nutritious than boiling them extensively.
4pengvado10yIs there any nutritional reason to distinguish between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or did you give separate suggestions just to be compatible with american traditions about what to eat when? Am I missing something when I eat 2-4 meals per day all drawn at random from the same menu consisting mostly of what other people might call "dinners"?
5dinasaurus10yI'm not sure about the other traditions, but eating foods with a high amount of carbohydrates (especially sugar) for dinner in my experience isn't a good idea. Even fruit. It raises your blood sugar, so when your blood sugar drops again you find yourself hungry. It happened to me a quite a few times that I woke up in the middle of the night in desperate need of sweets. If don't eat sweet things in the evening this doesn't happen. Obviously this only speaks against eating "breakfast" for dinner but not against eating "dinner" for breakfast. Which seems to be what English Breakfast is all about. ;-)

I have had exactly one load of laundry go wrong ever due to colors running. (Purple.) I pretty much blatantly ignore washing directions, except for formalwear and business suits. If something cannot survive being thrown in with the regular wash, it's too much trouble to keep. (It helps that I thrift the vast majority of my wardrobe, so I'm rarely out more than $5 or so if something is ruined.)

Ok- folding a fitted sheet is really fucking hard! I don't think that deserves to be on that list, since it really makes no difference whatsoever in life whether or not you properly fold a fitted sheet, or just kinda bundle it up and stuff it away. Not being able to deposit a check, mail a letter, or read a bus schedule, on the other hand can get you in trouble when you actually need to. Here's to not caring about linen care!

Regarding investment, my suggestion (if you work in the US) is to open a basic (because it doesn't periodically charge you fees) E*TRADE account here. They will provide an interface for buying and selling shares of stocks and various other things (ETFs and such; I mention stocks and ETFs because those are the only things I've tried doing anything with). They will charge you $10 for every transaction you make, so unless you're going to be (or become) active/clever enough to make it worthwhile, it makes sense not to trade too frequently.

EDIT: These guys appear to charge less, though they also deal in fewer things (e.g. no bonds).

This is right. But to put it much more generally, and as an exercise in seriously trying to bridge information gaps:

To buy stocks you need what is called a Brokerage account. The way a brokerage account works is that you give money to the Broker to invest for you. (Generally, you will do this by transferring it from an existing bank account.) This money generally gets put into a highly liquid account in your name, such as a money market fund. You can get your money back by instructing your broker to send it back to you.

When you want to buy stocks or other financial investments, you direct your broker to use the money in your brokerage account to buy stocks or other financial investments in your name. Your broker will use the money that is in your account to do this. Your brokerage account now also contains the stock you bought.

When you want to sell stocks, you tell your broker to sell, and the proceeds get put back into your cash-like account.

Brokers make money by charging you a fee each time you buy or sell a stock or other financial investment through them.

There are full-service brokerages and discount brokerages. Full service brokers (such as Merrill Lynch) give you extra help ... (read more)

I feel like it is useful to mention that because of efficient markets (which implies assets are "fairly priced") and the benefits of diversification (lower risk), it's almost always better to buy a low fee mutual fund than any particular stocks or bonds. In particular, Index Funds merely keep a portfolio which tracks a broad market index. These often have very low operating costs, so they are a pretty good way to invest. You can buy these as ETFs, or you can buy them through something like Vanguard.

I think some more detail is called for here too, on mutual funds vs ETFs:

When you buy part of a mutual fund, you are giving your money to professional fund managers to invest for you. Mutual funds are often devoted to a single investment strategy (value, growth, index...) or a specific business sector (energy, health care, high technology), or even a specific kind of investment vehicle (stocks, bonds, commodities...).

You pay the fund managers a small percentage of your assets each year (the number you want to look for here is the "expense ratio"). Something on the order of 1%. Sometimes you also pay a fee when you put your money in or when you take it out; funds that do this are called "load" funds, funds that don't are called "no-load" funds.

When you buy into an ordinary mutual fund, it's a similar process to having a savings account: you send the fund money, they use it to buy financial investments. Mutual funds are generally sold and redeemed at par; each dollar you invest in the fund buys a dollar's worth of investments. When you cash out, each dollar of investments they sell is a dollar that goes back into your pocket.

ETFs are similar to stocks. ... (read more)

5michaelkeenan10yThis is very, very good advice, and is worth understanding in more detail. My favorite article on index funds is this one [http://www.sanfranmag.com/story/best-investment-advice-youll-never-get], which angles its discussion of index funds around the unusually good investment advice many Google employees received when they became millionaires after the IPO in 2004. My second-favorite is this one from Overcoming Bias [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/07/investing-in-in.html] (LessWrong's sister site). Investing in index funds should be one of the big instrumental wins of rationality. It requires the ability to defend against overconfidence bias, the ability to defend against the wily marketing of financial advisers who don't have your best interests in mind, enough understanding of economics to comprehend what Yudkowsky called anti-inductive markets [http://lesswrong.com/lw/yv/markets_are_antiinductive/], and some not-especially-common knowledge about what investment options are available.

When you have a spare hour, set your alarm to go off every five minutes and practice 'being asleep', hearing the alarm, jumping out of bed, turning it off, and running to the shower. After 20 repetitions, the idea is that the next morning, when you hear the alarm, you'll run to the shower without needing to get fully conscious first. I dunno, something to try at least.

In case you are wondering why people have downvoted you, it's because you have bastardized the computing usage of 'portable' almost beyond recognition. Word documents are one of the classic examples of unportable file formats - formats locked into Microsoft software, which are portable neither over time nor computing platforms.

Although it might also just be because you are apparently wrong when you say you can't email a PDF to your Kindle like you can your Word documents.

(Even the XML MS format is pretty terrible, as groups like Groklaw analyzed back when MS first began pretending it was a real alternative to OOXML.)

I approve of explaining heavily-downvoted posts (FSVO 'heavily'). Thank you on behalf of LessWrong!

8Normal_Anomaly10yThank you for explaining that! I didn't realize "portable" had a technical meaning; I was reffering to how I can carry them around on a Kindle. I've edited the grandparent.
4gwern10yYou may find these links helpful for understanding what people expect 'portable' to mean in a computer context: * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_portability [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_portability] * http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/portabilitychapter.html [http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/portabilitychapter.html] * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_format [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_format] * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DataPortability [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DataPortability]

I have a kind of embarrassing one, but that's kind of the point of this discussion so here goes.

For some reason I've always had an aversion to social networking websites. I remember when all my peers used xanga, then livejournal, then myspace, and now facebook, and I always refused to use them whatsoever. I realize now though, that they represent a massive utility that I desperately need.

I am worried though, about starting new. Maybe I'm being overly paranoid, but it seems that having few friends on such a website signals low status, as does getting into the game this late.

So should I just create an account and add every single person I am even tangentially acquainted with? Is there a feature on facebook where you can hide who your friends are? Is it appropriate to ask someone you just met to friend you? What other cultural and social knowledge am I missing in this area?

I think people have very different standards as far as social networking goes. I would recommend deciding from the offset what you want to use Facebook for, and establish friending policies on that basis. If it's for keeping in touch with your nearest and dearest, keep it to a select few. If you want a conduit for talking to everyone you've ever met, add everyone you meet.

If I see someone who only has a handful of FB friends, I assume they're towards the more private end of the spectrum rather than thinking they're somehow socially retarded. Likewise if someone has 800+ FB friends, I don't think they regularly hang out with them all.

There is such a thing as a late adopter advantage. I don't think most people make these kinds of decisions when they first enter into that kind of environment, so you actually have the benefit of deciding off the bat how you want to use it, and how to optimise your usage for that aim.

Partial answer: Sarcasm appears to be a group membership test mechanism. It involves saying something that is obviously untrue according to the speaker's group's beliefs as if it's true, with the expectation that members of that group will understand that the speaker can't possibly believe that, and nonmembers will show their non-membership by acting as if the speaker does. It overlaps with mockery where it's done for the express purpose of highlighting the fact that someone isn't a member of a group, which is usually considered humiliating in and of itself and can also lead to other, more blatant teasing. It's hard to reliably tell the difference between sarcasm and seriousness without a good working knowledge of the speaker's beliefs - and even then it can be tricky if they're not particularly coherent in those beliefs.

(This is all based on my own observations, but I think it's accurate enough to be useful to others; if anyone has a better model I'd be interested.)

4RichardKennaway10ySometimes it's the other way round. The speaker says something with easily-recognised markers of not saying what they actually believe (e.g. call something a "modest proposal" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal]), to cloak the fact that they are saying exactly what they actually believe. Insiders know what is being communicated, while plausible deniability is maintained to outsiders.

He can only be blackmailed with such photos if he would mind having them displayed to some third party.

7MBlume10yIndeed. * Mother: Mildly awkward conversation * Boss: "Mike, that was kinda TMI" * Brothers: "Ewwwww" * Randomly Chosen Singularitarian Friend: High-Five ...that's all I can really think of.
4anon89510yBut he might benefit from having her think she's blackmailing him.
6MBlume10yNo such luck -- I've already e-mailed her this thread.

This would best be done on a wiki of some sort, I think.

Many of the instructions on this thread would fit well on wikiHow. It would be better to put them there than on Less Wrong Wiki or a new site because wikiHow is already known by more people as a source of information on basic things.

4David_Gerard10yGosh, if only we had a wiki to hand ...
[-][anonymous]10y 12

How do you speak clearly?

I have a bad speaking voice -- my sibilants ("S" sounds) come out mushy. If I record my speaking voice and play it back, even when I'm concentrating on enunciation, I sound... terrible. It's a voice that sounds geeky at best, retarded at worst. A little too high-pitched and monotone, as well. People have been telling me they can't understand what I'm saying all my life.

It's quite likely that I'll give many public presentations throughout my life, so being better at speaking might be worthwhile. I've lost my fear of public speaking (knowing the material well takes care of that) -- I'm just talking about the mechanics of speech. I want to be audible, comprehensible, and not sound like a moron.

I found that frequently recording my voice and playing it back immediately afterward helps immensely. Up through the start of my junior year of highschool I did a very poor job with pronunciation in general and what I thought I sounded like, sounded nothing like what I did in fact sound like. I got a portable voice recorder midway through my junior year. I like poetry, so a few times a week I would spend a while (maybe a half hour) in the evenings reading poetry into the recorder and playing it back a stanza at a time. If I didn't like the way it sounded, I would repeat the stanza (or the particular line in that stanza that sounded wrong) until it started sounding right. Within a few months I very much liked the way my voice sounded, and instead of having people telling me I talked funny, I occasionally had people complimenting my enunciation. (As I side effect I also became able to read out loud which was something else I used to have a lot of trouble doing)

4Paul Crowley10ySounds good. If anyone else reading this tries this, please report back on how well it works for you!

I think there may be some psychological element to finding one's own recorded voice unpleasant. When I hear my own recorded voice played back at me, I find it incredibly unpleasant, but my acquaintances assure me that it doesn't sound bad to them. Likewise, I've had people tell me that they can't stand the sound of their own recorded voices, when they sound perfectly fine to me.

If your acquaintances agree that your speech could use work, I agree with the recommendation of speech therapy, but it's possible that the problem is in your perception.

5Normal_Anomaly10yI dislike my own recorded voice as well. I've heard that because the sound of our own voices is partly transmitted to our ears via our heads, everyone's voice sounds higher in a recording. The difference is probably enough to be unnerving and I think that's what it is for me.
8CronoDAS10yI think the job title of someone who helps with that kind of problem is "speech therapist". And, for what it's worth, I kind of like your voice...

I'd be surprised if there are any of us who don't have some gap in knowledge that a majority of the rest of us found surprising. But really I can't think of any knowledge of this type I'm missing that I can't just look up (rather than ask here) if I realize that I don't have it. (Things of this type I can recall looking up in the past few years: ordering at a bar, dialing international phone numbers, reaching someone at a phone extension, getting a cashier's check from a bank, how to properly wear a suit jacket, how to read facial expressions and make small talk.)

I like wikihow, ehow, and similar sites--and I also find that guides intended for recent immigrants or people with autism are useful for "things everyone is supposed to know".

So it's true: Finnish is so insanely difficult that even the Finns can't speak it! :-)

4gwern10yWhich makes their PISA [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment] scores and educational practices [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8601207.stm] all the odder, to me.

The thing to do with telemarketers, I have learned, is not to immediately hang up.

No, it really is to hang up.

I prefer this to simply hanging up because doing the latter always makes me feel bad for several minutes afterward for having been rude to somebody who is, after all, trying to make a living.

Your emotions seem to be doing both you and the telemarketers a disservice - perhaps due to an instinctive misunderstanding of what kind of social transaction is taking place. The telemarketer is not socially vulnerable and nor are you in a position where perception will have future consequences. They also don't WANT to have an extended positive interaction that has no chance of success. Wasting five minutes on a mark that has no chance of giving a commission is strictly worse than an instant hang up. Your instincts are right that they are "after all, just trying to make a living" and you are just getting in their way.

I'm not saying it is necessarily worth retraining your emotional attachments in this case. You seem to attach pride to the act of wasting telemarketer time and guilt to the act of hanging up. This, combined with assertiveness practice you get and the cost of retraining yourself may mean that it is better to stay in the behavioral local minima.

As I mentioned above, having people social proof you, taking drugs, taking acting classes, meditating, and giving yourself therapy are all techniques worth experimenting with.

I could probably write a post about how I give myself therapy, but it might be difficult because essentially my self-therapy methods amount to phrases that get triggered in certain situations that remind me that feeling unhappy is not the rational thing to feel. (Example phrases: "I can deal with this level of emotional discomfort." "I give you my permission not to think about that." "As an exercise, try to feel [insert emotion here]." "Work with what you have." "Take a risk." "If I could choose to do X, I likely would.") It might be hard for me to extract all of my heuristics, because they get ingrained over time. (E.g. I find myself using "work with what you have" less because as a result of using it, I've made progress in ingraining the principle of not feeling demoralized by setbacks.)

Come to think of it, this approach (mostly implemented subconsciously) has been so effective that I'm thinking it might be a good idea to conscious... (read more)

Keep a regular sleep schedule.

This is something I completely failed to learn so far. Sure, I have some issues with procrastination or a lack of certain time-management skills, but even if I create a schedule for my whole week in advance and manage to follow it through for a couple of days at some point I completely mess it up because I sleep through half a day since I stayed up until 4AM the night before. Or I end up not getting enough sleep for several days in a row and getting sick (which happens far too often). Mostly, if I wake up at a certain time I don't get tired early enough to get a sufficient amount of sleep before I wake up at the same time on the next day (and unfortunately they don't make these time-turners yet).

It seems like every failed attempt to establish a working day routine can be mainly narrowed down to this single thing. I managed to get through High School and still get good grades even though I missed a lot of school days (due to being sick or too tired to go) because it was easy. Even at university it's still possible to pass the exams when you miss half of the lectures (although your results probably will suffer). However, I'm already afraid of my first real job.

9Bongo10yI had that problem but melatonin seems to have solved it.
8ShardPhoenix10yI found that having a full-time job fixed my sleep schedule - if I have to get up, I will. Then I'll usually be tired enough to go to sleep at a reasonable time too.
6BillyOblivion10yI've been fighting to regulate my sleep schedule for about 30 years now, and I've tried lots of things. These are the things that seem to help me, or that Studies Have Shown. What works best is to simply "man up" and regulate your sleep schedule, to quote the international sweat-shop shoe company "Just Do it". 1 Pick a "get up time", set you alarm and GET UP. This helps to make sure you're ready to go to bed on the other side. If you stay up until 4 in the morning playing Warcrack, play another 2 hours then go for breakfast. You'll be tired all day, but that night you'll be able to reset more effectively. 1.1 Do Not Nap, this makes it more difficult to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. 1.2 OTOH some people do really well to take nap in the afternoon (every afternoon) and stay up a little later. I can't do this. YSSMV. 1. When the alarm goes off GET UP. Do not set your alarm for 5 minutes early, if anything set it for 5 minutes late. 3 Avoid caffiene after noon to start with. If this helps you may want to let it slip to 3 or 4 in the afternoon, depending on how you metabolize it. Definately no caffine with dinner or afterwards. NONE. 4 When the sun goes down start to darken your surroundings a bit--turn off unnecessary lights, use desk/table/spot lights instead of room lights etc. 5 Set a realistic bedtime and stick to it. 6 Your sleep quarters should be used ONLY for sleeping, sex and dressing. Do not read yourself to sleep, no computers or television. 6.1 Heavy curtains and limit light as much as possible. The goal is not only to sleep, but to sleep WELL. 6.2 A fan, or some source of "grey noise" might help as well. 6.3 A regular sex partner can help you get to sleep :) Well, so can an irregular one, but the sheets may need changing more often. The other side of this is that some people seem to have body clocks that insist on running a certain way. I've been getting up at about 10 to 6 for the last 2 months every day of hte week. F'ing HATE IT.
4Vive-ut-Vivas10yDo you exercise?

I'm already quite publicly a polyamorous sex-positive atheist, I'm not running for political office any time soon

I think it's more that the word is dated. People still spend time together getting coffee to get to know each other. It's just not called a "date" because that sounds so 1950s.

Yes. You can look at your watch, phone, or appointment book. You can adjust your posture and body language to turn slightly away, step back, and shift your weight to the foot farther away from the person, as if you were getting ready to walk away.

You can make comments that summarize the conversation or comment on it more generally: this kind of abstraction is a natural signal that the conversation is winding down. "This is a really good conversation," "It's really good to talk to you," "You've given me a lot to think about," and so forth.

You can also mention other things you have going on, such as "I'm working on homework for X class," "I've got a test coming up," "I've been doing a lot of work getting my house ready to sell," which gives the other person a natural close: "Well, I'll let you get back to your work. Good luck with X."

YMMV. "You're hot, but I'm really quite keen on knowing if I can bear to be around you for a few hours" can be a good thing to establish.

Do not give a large bill and say "keep the change" even if this is makes a generous tip or makes precisely the tip you want to give. The standard connotations of this are all negative (including but not limited to that you are rich, can't be bothered to think about change, can't be bothered to think about what is the right size tip, and don't really care much about the person you are tipping). If you only have a single bill it is better to tip less and get some small amount of change back than to say "keep the change."

Wow, this is very much counter to everything I've heard and thought! When I think of someone saying "keep the change," I think of someone who is rich and generous and carefree. It doesn't have any of the negative connotations you suggest. And from the point of view of someone who's worked in service and lived on tips, I would definitely prefer a larger tip accompanied by the words "keep the change" than a smaller tip.

5[anonymous]10yYes. I've worked as a waitress and I agree with you. I had no problem with hearing "keep the change" so long as the bill offered was large enough. Another (possibly nicer?) way of phrasing it is "I don't need any change."
[-][anonymous]9y 10

This should really be a recurring (or otherwise highly visible) thread.

Much-belated edit: Here

Yeah, car batteries can do about a kiloamp into a dead short so we can treat them as ideal voltage sources for this 'application'. However, even with wet hands and solid contact, 12 volts is too low to get much current flowing.

Soaking my hands in saturated salt water got my hand to hand resistance down to 10-20kohm (0.5-1ma), which is still at least a factor of 250 above the 40 ohm resistance you'd need to draw 300ma, which is the lower figure wiki gives for DC caused fibrillation. Putting one hand on either terminal didn't get me so much as a tingle.

I know tingle levels are possible when soaking for longer (hours) and 9v will tingle your tongue (2-4milliamps), but it seems exceedingly hard to get to a dangerous level, considering that most models I've seen had the internal resistance of people at hundreds of ohms (350 is the number that sticks in mind). Also nerves are somewhat AC coupled, which brings the fibrillation limit up and makes people push away from the source instead of clinging on.

I guess it might be possible for someone with thin skinned thoroughly soaked hands making good contact and having a poorly shielded sensitive heart, but I'd call it a 'freak accident'.

Something else I've had to look up: how to convincingly dress like a grownup. (By which I mean less casual than t-shirts and jeans, work-appropriate, flattering, not looking like I just stepped out of a sci-fi movie or an art school.) There are some sites for female style advice I've found interesting and helpful (and edited to remove one I used to like that has gone off the rails).

8lextori10yI've found that for men, the style articles at http://artofmanliness.com/category/dress-grooming/ [http://artofmanliness.com/category/dress-grooming/] are an excellent resource, the authors of them often go out of the way to explain why particular choices are appropriate for particular situations.
5sixes_and_sevens10yRelated to this, I have immense difficulty dressing well and casually. I'm quite adept at dressing smartly, but there's a nebulous area between "jeans & t-shirt" and "shirt, no tie" where I just can't seem to figure out how to look stylish.
4beza1e17yThere is a decent subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/ [http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/]

"The degeneration of philosophical schools in its turn is the consequence of the mistaken belief that one can philosophize without having been compelled to philosophize by problems outside philosophy...
Genuine philosophical problems are always rooted outside philosophy & they die if these roots decay...
These roots are easily forgotten by philosophers who 'study' philosophy instead of being forced into philosophy by the pressure of nonphilosophical problems."

--Karl Popper, Conjectures & Refutations, (pages 95-97)

(Edited the last few paragraphs to be more useful.)

I actually teach this to college students, to some degree. This is in the context of moderately scripted competitive speech, though.

The first basic trick is to consciously try to speak at half-speed. Once you've done that, halve your speed again. This will at least be close to the right speed.

Another trick is to tell friends or family to rudely (or politely) interrupt you if you speak too fast. This technique can also be helpful for eliminating um, uh, like, y'know, and similar disfluencies. I will write "SLOW" on a piece of paper and hold it up while a student is speaking, for example.

I admit I am surprised that you find speaking slowly more difficult in terms of keeping track of what you are saying. In almost all cases I encounter, people actually speak much more coherently when they speak slower. Either use the extra time to think of what to say, or insert a few judicious pauses for the same effect.

I would say there is a non-negligible chance that your rapid speech comes off as very clear to you, but not to observers. I know that when I get really engaged in an idea, I will often talk rapid-fire in a way that I think ... (read more)

I think I have lots of gaps to report, but I'm having lots of trouble trying to write a coherent comment about them... so I'm going to just report this trouble as a gap, for now.

Oh, and I also have lots of trouble even noticing these gaps. I have a habit of avoiding doing things that I haven't already established as "safe". Unfortunately, this often results in gaps continuing to be not detected or corrected.

Anyway, the first gap that comes to mind is... I don't dare to cook anything that involves handling raw meat, because I'm afraid that I lack the knowledge necessary to avoid giving myself food poisoning. Maybe if I tried, I would be able to do it with little or no problem, but I don't dare to try.

I don't dare to cook anything that involves handling raw meat, because I'm afraid that I lack the knowledge necessary to avoid giving myself food poisoning.

Short tip: If the raw meat smells or tastes bad, don't eat it.

Longer tip: the reason there are so many raw meat warnings are not because you will get sick from eating or handling raw meat. If you don't have a clogged nose, there is almost no way for you to get sick from raw meat, because you will smell or taste any problems before you swallow it.

What's NOT safe is mxing raw and cooked foods. The safety warnings are because the same bacteria that will make raw foods smell bad, will not produce the same smell warnings in the cooked food. This means that you can have highly-contaminated cooked food that gives off no warning whatsoever, and get terribly sick from it.

I have eaten raw meat -- including raw chicken and raw eggs -- for many years, and had fewer incidences of stomach upset with them than I have had with cooked foods. The worst reaction I ever had to a raw food was when I ate a bad egg raw, that was too cold for me to properly taste or smell. (I vomited it up a few minutes later, when some less-impaired part of my... (read more)

Generally, it is mainly chicken that one needs to be careful about, because it is sometimes contaminated with unhealthy bacteria, even when bought "fresh". A general procedure with all meat, and especially chicken, is to wash any surface that raw chicken comes in contact with when you are done preparing it and have started to cook it, then wash any utensils you used that touched the chicken, and wash you hands. To be extra cautious, you can do that for any raw meat. Raw meat should be refrigerated soon after purchase and now allowed to stand uncooked at room temperature for more than the time it takes to prepare it.

I did this when I was a teenager. A few months later I found myself regularly jumping out of bed, taking two long running strides across my room, hitting the snooze button, running back to bed, and getting under the covers without ever properly waking up.

8shokwave10yI solved this problem by maxing out my alarm's volume and putting it in the shower.

Yeah, scary. And scariest is that he said it with a dismissive tone of authority and my brain just accepted it. It took me a couple minutes to notice it and convince myself the “expert” was completely ridiculous (I was almost a complete beginner skier at the time).

By the way, it’s not like short skis are new: I checked afterwards and found that their ease of use has been known for decades. It seems trainers insist on long skis just because they can give more lessons, rental shop guys can charge more for the bigger “better” skis, and I suspect most everyone else doesn’t even try them because they’re think they look like child skis or something.

In addition to "Learn to touch-type. Learn to type with ten fingers.":

I am often amazed and astonished that people do not know how to operate the search engine of their choice properly and thus fail to find their desired information. It is your main internet-information retrival-tool, make yourself familiar with its advanced possibilitys, also know as operators. e.g. for google, see this chart: http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html

I found most useful (for google) the following ones:

Quotationmarks around a phrase, e.g. &... (read more)

[-][anonymous]10y 9

Whereas "I'm sorry, I can't, I've been really busy with life" is a clear refusal, "I'd love to but..." isn't always and is worth at least a follow up.

Your experience may differ, but I disagree. Unless she suggests another time, this is meant as a polite brush-off. For most women, pursuing potential mates is a very, very high-priority activity, and no matter how busy their schedules may be, they can clear out an evening for a guy they're truly interested in.

In the few situations where the woman really is booked solid (such as the exam... (read more)

5taryneast10yThere is one alternative explanation - and that's a woman following "The Rules". In that case, you may not want to go out with her anyway, given that it's a book explaining how to manipulate men (much as PUAs do to women).

I spend more time than I should at bars (I like my sports, and don't own a TV..), and I've developed a few rules of thumb:

  1. I never say "keep the change"...but I often say "I'm all set, thanks" if I hand them a $20 for $18 of drinks, (or $17..) for example. "I'm all set" has the same effective meaning as "keep the change", but without the connotations.
  2. Overtip...in moderation. Standard American fare: $1 per drink. If you order 3 drinks, tip 3 dollars. If you order 8 drinks at once, it depends. If you ordere
... (read more)

Certainty is irrelevant, even if you are certain you still have serious problems making any use of this knowledge; there is no convenient stock named RBTS you can just buy 500 shares of and let it appreciate.

Example: in retrospect, we know for certain that a great many people wanted computers, operating systems, social networks etc - but the history of computer / operating system / social networks are strewn with flaming rubble. Suppose you knew in 2000 that "in 2010, the founder of the most successful social network will be worth >$10b"; just... (read more)

Even a metric that can be gamed is possibly useful when not being gamed.

[-][anonymous]10y 8

Vladimir, I'm not sure about the orientation bit. Imagine constructing a sphere of fish around the lightning strike, so that the fish tile the sphere and are flat against the sphere (actually, hemisphere). Necessarily, all the electricity flows through the fish, because they completely tile the hemisphere. Now re-orient the fish without otherwise changing their location. Now, because the fish are thin, they no longer cover the sphere, and between them is a lot of seawater. So only a small fraction, now, of the electricity flows through the fish, and the re... (read more)

4Vladimir_M10yConstant: You are correct! I hastily analogized from the human step potential, ignoring the fact that fish, unlike humans, may well be much poorer conductors than the surrounding (or, in the human case, underlying) medium. Sadly, it seems the electrical engineering courses I took long ago haven't left many surviving correct intuitions. After a bit of googling about this question, I'm intrigued to find out that the problem of electrocuting fish has attracted considerable research attention. A prominent reference appears to be a paper titled Electrical stunning of fish: the relationship between the electrical field strength and water conductivity by two gentlemen named J. Lines and S. Kestin (available ungated here [http://www.silsoeresearch.org.uk/animal-welfare/jeff/conductivity.pdf], and with a gruesome experimental section). Alas, the paper says, "No publications appear to be available which identify conductivity measurements of fish tissue at the frequencies being used." It does however say that we might expect something in the hundreds or low thousands of uS/cm, whereas Wikipedia informs us that the conductivity of seawater is around 4.8 S/m, i.e. as much as 48,000 uS/cm. So, yes, this was definitely a blunder on my part.

By the way, I remembered something relevant to LessWrong, I’ll put it here even though not precisely on topic:

There is a very widespread bias in the skying world for long skis: evidence is overwhelming that for recreational skiing shorter skis are much better, but it seems almost everyone ignores it for what appear to be status reasons.

Anecdote: Having seen short skis on slopes, I once asked the guy at the rental shop about them. He dismissed them with “Oh, those are just for fun”—although it was quite obvious that I wasn’t there training for the Winter Ol... (read more)

Recipes are typically badly underspecified for someone inexperienced at cooking, and the sense this creates, that there's some optimal thing to do that I'm expected to figure out but probably not going to be able to, is something I can find seriously demotivating (despite any explicit knowledge that whatever I end up doing will probably be satisfactory). I wouldn't be surprised if (something like) this is a common problem for LWers.

4[anonymous]10yThis problem definitely exists and I've been bitten by it personally(1), but it used to be harder to get around than it is now. In previous generations it was assumed that basic cooking knowledge would be transmitted within the family--daughters learned by helping their mothers in the kitchen, and sons, well, they'd go through a brief bachelor period of poor nutrition, but people married early and getting hot meals again would be a good inducement towards "settling down." When this cultural context died, cookbooks were slow to catch up--they were still mostly written for people (women) who already knew their way around a kitchen. However, this has changed, and there are now excellent cookbooks available that will explain all the things other recipes assume you already know. Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" and Alice Waters' "The Art of Simple Food" are two good ones. The "America's Test Kitchen" show on PBS is also good for seeing what the cooks are doing when they talk about julienning carrots or making an herb chiffonade or whatever. (1) When I first started cooking for myself I didn't understand the true purpose behind browning meat, and of course none of my cookbooks explained the Maillard reaction [http://www.ochef.com/782.htm] directly. I noticed that all recipes involving meat would specify that the meat be "browned on all sides" in separate batches over high heat, but I thought the purpose was simply to get it cooked more quickly. As a result I would sometimes skip this step, or even if I performed it I would crowd as much meat into the pan as I could--resulting in meat that wasn't truly brown, but grayish because it had actually been steamed rather than seared. It also tasted dull, for which I blamed the cheap cuts of meat I was buying. Actually it turns out that some of the cheaper cuts of meat have the most flavor, if you cook them right. (Filet mignon is pricey because it's a very tender cut of meat, but it has much less flavor than a cheap sir

the fear definitely fully extends to never cooked chicken (cutting boards, knives)

Because bringing them into contact with cooked foods actually is dangerous. You won't have any way of knowing the cooked food is contaminated.

Here's the thing: if your food's not that fresh, cooking can make an unsafe food safe (from a bacterial point of view) at the cost of destroying some other nutrients. (e.g. creatine and vitamin C). However, that same piece of food you'd spit out due to taste or spit up via whatever the backup test mechanism is.

So it's not that I'm... (read more)

3Desrtopa9yIt's easy to tell when an egg has gone bad, but not easy to tell whether it's contaminated with salmonella. I'd take a bet on that. I haven't read any statistics on this, but I have read that before refrigeration, people were often less picky about what constituted expiration in food, by necessity. People might be able to smell most dangerous food contamination, but before refrigeration and pasteurization, people were often faced with a choice between eating potentially dangerous food and not eating. I recall Bill Bryson writing (in Made In America) that a contemporary noted that at one meal, George Washington put away his food without eating it, because he thought it was off. His wife cleaned her plate.

Enforcement in software players is lax for whatever reason, but makers of DVD players need to agree to honor the Prohibited User Operations flags in order to get a patent license to use the DVD video format. So the general point stands that if you're skipping previews, someone is either in breach of contract or breaking the law.

Any atheist here, and equally irrational? That's a bet I'd take.

It's one thing to disagree with a person on a number of points, and another thing to be unable to respect their epistemology. On difficult matters, where it's hard to locate an error, you can consider another person's reasoning sound to respectable standards without agreeing with their conclusions (we're only human after all,) and on matters of opinion, disagreement does not necessarily imply conflict of epistemology. Religion falls into neither category.

I used to be open to relationships with... (read more)

I use bunny ears.

It's well documented that a single bunny ear overhand knot should suffice to keep your shoes tied.

For the first 20 years of my life, I had been tying the initial overhand knot with the wrong polarity (right lace clockwise around left) compared to my bunny-ear tying polarity. If your laces don't stay, try swapping either one (but just one) and you may have fixed a mismatch. In my case I just changed to the mirror image of the first-stage overhand knot motion (changing dominant hand, etc.).

9SRStarin10yOMG I did not even know I didn't know how to tie my shoes! I was tying granny knots instead of square knots. I have been double-knotting my laces for years because they would keep coming undone. No longer! Great link there, Mr. Graehl. I never learned the bunny ears method, but according to that same web site [http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/twoloopknot.htm], it results in the same knot as the standard method.

My deficiency is common manners. I think it's a lack of attention to the world outside of my own thoughts. I've been known to just wander away from a conversation that is clearly not over to the other participants. I notice a sneeze about 10 seconds too late to say "bless you!". I'm appropriately thankful, but assume that's clear without my actually saying or writing something to convey the feeling. Depending on the context, my preoccupation leads me to be perceived as everything from a lovable nerd to an arrogant jerk. It's something I'd like to change.

When I interact with people who behave the way you do (there a lot here at NASA), I generally do not hold it against them.

However, since you said you'd like to change, here are some suggestions that don't require a great deal of attention because they are responses to specific events (which you would need to practice noticing):

  • Always say "Thank you" for everything. Assume that no one thinks you're thankful unless you say so. It's not necessarily true, but it is true sometimes, and it's virtually never true that saying "thank you" will annoy someone that has just done something for you.
  • Learn people's names and use them when you see someone for the first time each day (assuming you're in an anglophone culture--romance cultures greet more often, I don't know about other cultures). For many people, saying "Hi, JoAnn!" instead of just "Hi" or "Mmf" helps make them feel valued and respected by you.
  • It's OK to leave a conversation that others are continuing, if they're not actually speaking to you at the time you leave. Tell everyone "Bye" or "Talk to you later" or whatever is appropriate for your expectations of interacting in the future, and then step away. If you don't want to interrupt a lively discussion, you can just raise your hand in a quick wave, try to make eye contact with at least one person if you can and smile or nod, and step away.
5handoflixue10yI'll second the "thank you", and append that "please" and "you're welcome" are also wonderful phrases. I tend to read out as exceptionally polite as long as I'm managing those three. I have, ONCE in my life, had someone upset with me for my politeness, but that was because I was overusing "sorry". I do find apologizing is a useful trait, but it's definitely easier to overdo that one :)
6Jonathan_Graehl10yI used to think it was worthwhile to think of strangers as human beings. Now I prefer to ignore them until an actual reason to interact presents itself. This doesn't apply to people I expect to encounter at least several times. Just strangers. I suppose learning to comfortably make eye contact and engage strangers was useful, but now I choose not to do it when I have no reason to. It conserves energy and makes me happier not thinking about how I'm perceived by them. Maybe it's true that crowded/urban living isn't "natural" or "healthy", but the solution isn't to waste energy trying to constantly "connect" with strangers - that's an exercise in futility. The solution would be to find a subcommunity where you can behave "normally".
7ruhe4710yI have replaced the stock replies to normal social banter with something just on the edge of what most people expect. That little change has had a positive impact on my everyday life. When you ask someone how they are doing they will usually respond with the standard, "I'm Good". A simple smile and a, "Are you really good, or just sorta good?" tends to bump them away from the script and engage with you a little more. Whether it's a waitress or a mechanic, that simple statement (no matter how scripted it is on my part) tends to bring out a higher level of service from them. There is no wasted energy in trying to "connect" with them, as I usually don't care... but stepping outside of their hum-drum routine gives them the perception that I care. That can make all the difference!
4Jonathan_Graehl10yInteresting. The smile, and the fact that you're really saying something, are probably what really matter. I don't ignore my mechanic or waiter - there is a reason to interact :)
6MaoShan10yWelcome to the LessWrong / Autism Spectrum club.
[-][anonymous]9y 7

If you are male and under 30 you should see a doctor every so often to get blood work done--say every 3-5 years.

Pro tip: if you donate blood, they check it for free.

Where can I get an IQ test? I am an adult and was never tested as a child. Searching google has only given me online tests. I want a professionally done test.

I considered myself intelligent, but some of the sequences/posts on this site are quite challenging for me. It has made me curious on exactly how intelligent I am. I don’t want to be too over or under confident when it comes to intelligence. I try to learn new things and that helps me find the limits of my intelligence, but I figure my IQ will also be interesting to know as well.


7gwern10yPer saturn's comment, online tests can be pretty accurate, especially the ones which are imitating (copying) the matrix-style tests; I keep a list as part of the DNB FAQ [http://www.gwern.net/DNB%20FAQ#available-tests]. Note the many caveats. In particular, you cannot take multiple tests! Obviously for most of them you can't take it twice because the questions don't change, but less obviously, they're all similar enough that if you take one, you can expect your score on the second to be noticeably increased just from familiarity/experience. (This is why I suggest that people doing dual n-back do before/after IQ tests with a minimum of months in between, and preferably years.)
4Vladimir_M10yNote however that IQ is not a property of individuals measurable on an individual basis like, say, height or weight is. Its utility lies in its statistical power to predict the average performance of large groups of people. When it comes to testing a specific individual, except perhaps for the greatest extremes (like diagnosing mental retardation), the fact that you achieved a certain score gives only probabilistic information about you. Moreover, for individuals scoring in high percentiles, to which you probably belong if you find the stuff written on this blog interesting, there are strong diminishing returns to high scores even statistically. It's like e.g. wondering about your height with regards to your basketball prospects: your potentials are indeed likely to be much greater if you're, say, 6'2" rather than 5'10", but if you already know that you're more than a few inches above average, the difference between, say, 6'9" and 6'5" won't matter anywhere as much.
5CarlShulman10yThis doesn't seem to be so up to at least the 1 in 10,000 level [http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/Top1in10000.pdf]. However, I agree that the predictive power of theses tests is still small relative to the remaining sources of variation (although it is one which we are relatively good at measuring) and they shouldn't be over-weighted.

Pretty sure I've had some type of allegedly-comprehensive-but-cheap blood scan done, which didn't turn up anything interesting. Is there somewhere I go for a more comprehensive blood scan?

5wedrifid10yOuch, you've really explored your options! I must admit I've only really looked at places to get blood tests in Melbourne. It sounds like you didn't keep a copy of the scan results. If I you did have the results handy it would have been worth getting the guys at imminst.org to look at it. In the collective they seem to be an effective resource when it comes to identifying atypical yet not life threatening health issues. What interests me in your case is whether you get the other benefits of exercise, particularly the neurological ones. Not losing weight from exercise is one thing but I wonder whether you still get the boost to neurogenesis and the increased resilience to stress that exercise provides.

800+ comments now. I think you may have been right that lots of people have basic procedural gaps that need addressing, Alicorn... :)

I'm kind of weirded out by the fact that a three-paragraph post originally put in Discussion that took me ten minutes to write is now my most upvoted post of all time.

9Unnamed10yIt's like the joke about the mechanic who fixes a car's engine by hitting it once with a hammer. He charges the owner $200 and the guy complains: "All you did was hit the engine with a hammer, I'm not paying $200 for that." So the mechanic gives him an itemized bill: Hitting the engine with a hammer, $5; Knowing where to hit it: $195.
9MartinB10yYou identified a need and acted on it. Well done. You probably do net get to choose where you make the biggest impact. PS: my most voted comment used to be just one word
5mindspillage10yUnlike some of the more abstruse topics, this one is likely of at least some interest/value to nearly everyone reading the site...

This should probably be turned into a quarterly (monthly?) thread.

Dry hair is more likely to break, split, and peel.

A good barber knows not only what kind of haircuts look fashionable for men, but the also how to cut the hair so it's easy to maintain.

Barbers can help you look like a fashionable normal guy, but what's most likely to happen with a barber is that you come out looking like an average normal guy.

Here are a bunch of haircuts that your barber probably can't help you with. All these guys are very popular, and most of them are sex symbols.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

To everyone who's day this comment makes: you're welcome.


Here are a bunch of haircuts that your barber probably can't help you with. All these guys are very popular, and most of them are sex symbols.

I don't think these photos make such a good case.

First and foremost, some of them are examples of extreme peacocking, or in case of that guy with dreadlocks, of extreme "I'm shabby but still high-status" countersignaling. This can indeed be spectacularly successful if done with utmost competence and in a suitable context, but it's apt to backfire with an even more spectacular failure if any of these conditions are less than perfect.

I'd say there's a more important general lesson here: just because high-status, sex-symbol men do something, it doesn't mean that it's wise for the average Joe to try imitating it. You must learn to walk before trying to run, which means that if you're not able to pull off a rock-solid and competent "conservative normal guy" image, you probably won't be able to pull off any of those more advanced peacocking/countersignaling strategies. (There are examples of men who can naturally do the latter but not the former, but it's very rare.)

This is why modern pop-culture is highly conf... (read more)

6HughRistik10yThen I think I failed to be clear about what case I was making with them. The point is that there are many ways for men to do hair that barbers don't support, and that barbers are not at the cutting edge of what is fashionable. I showed the photos to display some of the "design space" for men's hair that is kept off limits to them. I see the costs and benefits about differently. Peacocking can be super-powerful, and getting it wrong while learning isn't actually terribly costly, especially for those who are already low in social status and attractiveness. Of course, this depends on culture: some cultures punish male appearance nonconformism (particularly around gender) more harshly than others. True, but it's useful to understand the cultural schemas around masculinity. Once he does, then he can tap into them in more subtle ways. Yes. I wouldn't advise jumping straight to one of these hairstyles until you can put together the right sort of outfit to support it. Putting together a strong normal guy image can quickly start overlapping with peacocking. If you can pick out good pieces that fit you, then you are practically peacocking already. Normal guy looks just don't suit some guys very well, and developing a normal guy look isn't necessarily the best use of effort. In my case, even though I'm probably above average in looks, I just don't look very remarkable in jeans and a T-shirt, with <1 inch hair. Other guys with different builds would look much better in those clothes and hair. Eventually I realized that I wasn't going to beat guys at doing the normal guy look. So I started doing something more niche, and the attention I got skyrocketed. I'm actually much better positioned to try a normal guy look now. In some ways, doing a normal guy look well is actually hard, because the options are so limited. There is a benefit to doing a crazy look, then incorporating elements of it backwards to spice up your normal look. That's true. And I probably traumatized som
4Vladimir_M10yAlso, regarding this: I think you're being much too idealistic about subcultures. Any subcultural or countercultural milieu will feature the same human universals that exist everywhere else, and will therefore impose its own status markers and standards of conformity no less strict and demanding than the mainstream society. (Of course, the mainstream can usually threaten more severe punishments for disobedience, but the loss of status among people whose opinion one cares about is a terrifying enough threat for anyone.) What you see as escaping the straight-jacket is at best just a change of masters, not an escape into freedom. (With the exception of a small minority who find that their natural inclinations and abilities lend themselves to achieving high status in some particular milieu especially well, but even this works both ways.) Trouble is, the girls in various groups like those respond positively to the same essential traits in men as anywhere else. Whether you have a mainstream image or any particular subcultural image, it's basically orthogonal to how attractive you are to women. Now clearly, a given way of dress and behavior will be acceptable in one place and unacceptable in another, but chances are that if you adjust your dress and manners to a different milieu, the women there will find you about as attractive as those in the previous place found you with your previous image. That has at least been my experience, both personal and observational, and I've certainly changed my image and the circles I've hung out in a great deal through the years.


Things to avoid: Do not give a large bill and say "keep the change" even if this is makes a generous tip or makes precisely the tip you want to give.

What is the exact source of this information? In a few years of living in (Anglophone) Canada, I've never heard of this. In fact, once you get the bill and put the money on the table, the waiter will often ask if you need any change. (Especially if the bill comes in that small folder and you close it over the money so he can't see how much you left when taking it.)

5JoshuaZ10yshrug it is something I remember being told explicitly when I was younger. It is possible that whoever told me was simply wrong.

I'm glad I can actually answer something!
This is how I do it and it works really well:

  1. reverse the cover so it's inside out.
  2. stand with it's opening facing you, reach into it and grab the far corners, from the INSIDE. If it's hard to find them, simply let the edges (from the inside) guide your hands all the way to the ends.
  3. Now using your two hands (which are already holding two corners of the cover from the insides), grab two corners of the duvet
  4. Now this is the fun part: Lift the duvet, so the cover falls all around it. This is like reversing a
... (read more)

How is "getting a Ph.D. in philosophy" (as a formal distinction) helpful to this goal? Purely as a source of funding? Attempt to stimulate academia from the inside to work on the problem?

For the foreseeable future, I'm going to be exclusively dating poly or poly-friendly girls anyway. I don't think being bi would hurt me within that subpopulation -- does that seem wrong?

(One data point: my girlfriend has only-half-jokingly claimed that if I really want to make her happy, I ought to make out with one of my male friends and send her photos)

6David_Gerard10yIt won't hurt in any way. The pure heterosexual or pure homosexual are slightly odd in most poly scenes. And everyone knows about straight guys kissing to get the chicks ...

And now you know what jokes about the letter "elemenopee" are referring to.

(UK Specific post, not a car person).

tl;dr Find one, optionally pay a company to check it isn't stolen or legally written off, and has no outstanding finance. Agree an amount of money. Sign the vehicle ownership documents, trade those and the car for the money within any applicable laws governing trade in your area. If your car has the required tax and safety certificates, and you have the required license and insurance, drive away, otherwise sort those out next. Cross your fingers and hope it isn't a lemon, but realise that if it is, it is a setback, not ... (read more)

Yeah, that kind of advice is not going to fill any procedural knowledge gaps, sorry.

Previously I've tried "exercise" with fitness machines, aerobic and resistance both, an hour apiece on both, and it doesn't seem to do anything at all. I currently walk a couple of hours every other day. I have no idea whether this does anything (besides exhausting me so much I don't get any work done for the rest of the day, of course). I once read that 40% of the population is "immune to exercise" and I suspect I'm one of the 0.40.

If I have enough m... (read more)

I once read that 40% of the population is "immune to exercise"

If you mean, 40% of people don't lose weight by exercising, that's probably correct. The OP said "basic level of fitness", though, which does not necessarily mean weight loss.

I currently walk a couple of hours every other day. I have no idea whether this does anything (besides exhausting me so much I don't get any work done for the rest of the day, of course).

There is a fair amount of study (for citations see "Body By Science") that longer exercise does not result in greater health gains, and that it is rather the intensity of exercise that makes the difference.

In my own personal experience, long walks are pleasant, but I felt a greater increase in energy levels from using one of Sears's 10-minute PACE workouts (1 minute walking, 1 minute all-out running, repeat 5 times, then cool down). A few days of this and my general energy levels throughout the day went up. (I would guess the OP's suggestion of hill sprints is based on the same principle of alternating high intensity and low intensity activity for a short period.)

There are quite a few ways in which conventional or popular wisdom about exercise is wrong; the idea that more exercise is better is one of them. (The idea that exercise will help or cause you to lose weight is another.)

I once read that 40% of the population is "immune to exercise" and I suspect I'm one of the 0.40.

I've been a competitive distance runner for a decade. In that time I've watched maybe 100 people join track or cross country teams, and every one who stays on the team more than a month has shown clear improvement, at least at first.

I've also known many recreational runners, and there's a big difference between a median runner on a cross country team and a median recreational runner of the same age and gender. In fact, of the fifty or so recreational runners I've talked to in some depth, and thousands I've seen at races, I have never met someone who trained themselves independently from the beginning and could beat me at 1500 meters. Meanwhile, I've known scores of people who could beat me at that distance, but they all ran on teams or had run on teams in the past.

In my experience, the slowest guys who joined the team and practiced every day would run a mile in about 5:30 after a year, with a median around 5:00, and 4:40 if they kept at it for a few years. For women it was about 7:00 at slowest, median 6:00 and around 5:30 for women who trained for some time. (Talen... (read more)

In that time I've watched maybe 100 people join track or cross country teams, and every one who stays on the team more than a month has shown clear improvement, at least at first.

Okay, but which way does the causality run?

This is confusing. It seems like somehting a good rationalist should not have any problem with. And you're supposedly the greatest rationalist around. Are you sure you've actually applied your rationality skills and done stuff like sat down for 5 minutes (each) and thought about questions like "What exactly am I trying to accomplish with exercise, and is there any other way to accomplish it", "How can I find out what kinds of exercise will give results" , "can I replicate what a fitness trainer does myself, find the information online, or find someone willing to act as one for free?", etc.

There are probably a decent number of people with medical knowledge here, who knows these things. Heck, if a few things (like living on the wrong continent) were different I could've just given you my athlete sisters number.

Edit: Also, why is everyone talking about expensive equipment? I'm pretty sure you only need equipment for advanced training if you want to compete or because it's easier/more comfortable, general fitness and health I can see no reason to do anything other than running and stretching and push-ups and such. I'm also pretty sure you can use normal stuff lieing around even for the things you need props for. I'm no expert thou.

... goodness I can't believe I just typed this. -_- Feels like heresy telling Eliezer what to do, especially in an area I consider myself to know nothing about. I'm fully prepared for this to be down-voted to oblivion.

I once read that 40% of the population is "immune to exercise"

Where did you read that?

(I'd be pretty surprised if that turned out not to be untrue, overstated, or overgeneralized.)

4wedrifid10yI am hoping it was advice specifically given for wait loss, emphasising that just adding light exercise will not see large results in many cases. As an independent observation it would be terrible.

I was skeptical as well, but Googling for "immune to exercise" produced this: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6735-some-people-are-immune-to-exercise.html. It seems like an area that could really use further research; if the universally-dispensed advice is ineffective for nearly half the population, that's a huge problem.

Yes, but that shows that Eliezer probably misremembered what the 40% referred to. In that study, "40%" refers not to how many didn't benefit, but rather to the maximal benefit on a particular measure of fitness received by any of the participants:

For example, the team found that training improved maximum oxygen consumption, a measure of a person’s ability to perform work, by 17% on average. But the most trainable volunteers gained over 40%, and the least trainable showed no improvement at all. Similar patterns were seen with cardiac output, blood pressure, heart rate and other markers of fitness.

Alternately, he might've been rounding the subsequent statistic:

Bouchard reported that the impact of training on insulin sensitivity – a marker of risk for diabetes and heart disease – also varied. It improved in 58% of the volunteers following exercise, but in 42% it showed no improvement or, in a few cases, may have got worse.

So, how many is many? What fraction of the subjects were resistant on the various metrics? Unfortunately, the NS article doesn't give exactly what we want to know, so we need to find the original scientific papers to figure it out ourselves, but the... (read more)

I recall originally reading something about a measure of exercise-linked gene expression and I'm pretty sure it wasn't that New Scientist article, but regardless, it's plausible that some mismemory occurred and this more detailed search screens off my memory either way. 20% of the population being immune to exercise seems to match real-world experience a bit better than 40% so far as my own eye can see - I eyeball-feel more like a 20% minority than a 40% minority, if that makes sense. I have revised my beliefs to match your statements. Thank you for tracking that down!

I once read that 40% of the population is "immune to exercise" and I suspect I'm one of the 0.40.

.4 of the population unlikely to have evolved? I can't take this too seriously I suppose.

Did you try working on strength first? A lot of cardio is claimed to not be very helpful.

Also, consider a coach or a fellow rationalist with some domain knowledge to work with, it's pretty important to optimize this area (esp. if it puts you out of commission for the rest of the day).

One hack that helped me work throughout the annoyance is reading kindle on a stationary bike. Lost 20 with that trick.

7MichaelVassar10yWhy not just use a trainer at the gym. Also, if you can't afford that you should really talk with me. It's obviously a high priority.

At this point, my Expectancy for positive results from single changes like "just use a trainer at the gym" has hit essentially zero - I've tried all sorts of stuff, nothing ever fucking works - so I'm not willing to spend the incremental money. If I have a lot of money to spend, I'll try throwing a higher level of money at all aspects of the problem - get a trainer on weights, try the latest fad of "short interval bursts" for aerobic exercise, get LASIK and a big TV and a separate room of the apartment to make exercising less unpleasant (no, dears, I don't get any endorphins whatsoever), buy a wide variety of grass-fed organic meats and take one last shot at the paleo diet again, and... actually I think that's most of what I'd do. That way I'd be able to scrape up enough hope to make it worth a shot. Trying one item from that list doesn't seem worth the bother.

I did try Shangri-La again when Seth Roberts contacted me personally and asked me to take another shot. It was just wearing tight, uncomfortable noseplugs while eating all my food and clearing out time at night to make sure I took oil 1 hour away from eating any other food or brushing my teeth, a trivi... (read more)

I replied to your other comment without being sure whether the "nothing works" part was about weight loss or the ability to gain strength and conditioning from exercise.

There is a current idea that exercise is beneficial no matter what you weigh. See for example http://haescommunity.org/ and this new article on exercise and depression: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lloyd-i-sederer-md/depression-treatment-_b_819798.html?ir=Living

I have a hard time not following the herd mentality and trying to measure my success with exercise by my size and shape. I can and generally do use another measure of success for exercise than what I weigh. You can measure increased strength either by seeing how much weight you can lift or how many push-ups or pull-ups you can do, or you can measure your increased cardiovascular fitness with your standing pulse rate, or how long you can walk or run without becoming exhausted. (I'm shooting for 45 push-ups in a row by age 45.)

Then it doesn't actually matter whether you're metabolically privileged. Or privileged with relation to losing weight anyway, some people would say your metabolism--and mine!--make total sense in a starvation environment. The ... (read more)

If I were in your situation, I would start to take a technical interest in the biomechanics of fat deposition in male bodies, differential retention of water in body tissues, the genetics of metabolism, the adipocyte cell cycle in visceral fat - as much causal and molecular detail as I could bring myself to assimilate. Just for a few hours, I would proceed as if I was going to tackle the problem by understanding what's happening from the molecular level up, genuinely identifying exactly where a change needs to occur, and fashioning an appropriate intervention.

The logic of this approach is that we are now in a time when such overkill analysis of all biological processes has become possible, and that you personally are smart and informed enough to be able to perform that analysis, "in principle". "In principle" means that if you devoted the next several years of your life to nothing but the intensive study of those topics, you would almost assuredly make useful progress. In reality you have other priorities which guarantee that you won't turn yourself into a research biologist. But just for a while proceed as if you were going to tackle this problem with the thor... (read more)

8[anonymous]10yWhat do you mean by "nothing works"? I have heard pretty good evidence that some people have a very hard time losing weight. I've also seen physiological reasons for why that might be. I have never heard of "resistance to exercise" in the sense that you could exercise and never get stronger or fitter. I just don't see how that would work, physiologically. Honestly -- is this a documented phenomenon?
6pjeby10yThis is more of an anecdote than advice, but my wife has had some similar issues, i.e. being able to lose weight on occasion in some fashion, but then becoming immune to it and having it creep back on. Recently, she got some software that makes dietary recommendations based on genotype information -- a combination of blood type, body proportions, PROP tasting ability, tooth shapes, etc. etc. (It took an hour or two to take all the measurements, tests, and observations required.) The theory behind the software is that humans are evolved to thrive on different sorts of foods; even if you are going to eat "paleo", your ancestral geography will make a difference as to which specific fruits, nuts, roots, eggs, and meats you're going to thrive on. So, the software uses a bunch of known physical genetic markers (like torso length to leg length ratio, index/ring finger ratio, etc.) to identify a dietary genotype grouping. From these measurements, the software spat out a list of foods to eat, avoid, or eat more of to lose weight... and many of the things to eat to lose weight were pretty obscure, while many of the things to avoid were things she ate a lot of. After cutting out all the things to avoid, her weight has started drifting down instead of up. It's still early days yet, in that one would expect this effect per Roberts' hypothesis. However, one of the interesting things is that the foods the diet recommended just happened to also match things she'd been eating on previous diets when she lost weight... and many of the "avoid" items were things she'd been eating a lot of when struggling to stop gaining. That is, if you looked at it in terms of "doing the X diet", "doing the Y diet", and so on, her results would appear more mixed than if you looked at the detail of, "doing the X diet eating food A" versus "doing the X diet eating food B." For example, "doing Atkins eating beef and horseradish", vs. "doing Atkins eating lots of whey protein bars and chicken." The ov
5michaelkeenan10yHey, metabolically privileged guy here. Being immune to whatever exercise you previously tried must have been very frustrating and demotivating. As far as I can tell from brief research, exercise immunity has been demonstrated for cardio exercise, but I haven't heard of people unable to gain strength. In my experience, even a modest gain in strength is gratifying, and this may propel you the rest of the way to ferocious manraptor. You mentioned you've tried resistance machines, but machines have kind of a bad reputation among seriously strong people. Free weights are widely considered better [http://www.google.com/search?q=free+weights+machines&hl=en]. Trainer quality varies widely, so you might have come across a bad trainer if you were advised to use machines, and especially if you were advised to try high rep counts (like 12 or more) per set, and very especially if you were advised to focus on isolation exercises targeting one muscle at a time. Maybe you have a hidden dark mighty side that has yet to surface. You may have read about how different human phenotypes have different proportions of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscles, making different people suited to be endurance runners or sprinters, or just really strong people. I guess the populations of each are stable over time, since it's advantageous to specialize in whatever skill your tribe is in short supply of. Presumably there are many genetic differences in addition to the fast-twitch/slow-twitch one that's fairly well-known. Your body might be suited to something in particular - maybe not an activity that's recommended to the average person. If strength isn't it, maybe it's something unusual. Jousting? Wrestling? Ballet? Yoga? Crossfit? Fencing? (Or, of course, you could be a mutant, or affected by some virus, or just in possession of an unlucky genetic combination that leaves you not particularly suited for anything physical.) You might want to talk to Patri Friedman about this in person - he is go
4Armok_GoB10yIs it just me or does the "nothing fucking works phenomenon" be very much rarer outside of the US?
4John_Maxwell10yIf you don't mind my asking, why do you feel such a strong compulsion to lose weight? It feels to me like you're certainly justified in giving up at this point. If thinking about your weight brings feelings of low status, this seems like a problem worth fixing. It's certainly much harder for me to think well when I'm feeling low status. But there are other methods for fixing low-status feelings, like having people social proof you, taking drugs, taking acting classes, meditating, giving yourself therapy, etc. (I'd be happy to elaborate on how any of these worked for me.)
9Eliezer Yudkowsky10yI have given up, and it was indeed a great improvement in quality of life when I stopped trying to manage my weight - gave up and ate whatever, stopped going to the gym - and observed that my weight behaved in exactly the same way as before, the same slow upward creep at the same rate. I don't know to what degree being overweight would be less painful if there wasn't a social stigma attached to it, but we don't actually live in that world.
9komponisto10ySome questions from someone who is genuinely curious and has almost zero domain knowledge (I've never commented on this topic before, I don't think): 1. It seems to me that any social stigma would be based not on being overweight per se, but rather on the visual appearance of being overweight, i.e. being "fat". However, I don't find that your visual appearance is outside the normal variation that I expect to see among people in the contemporary United States. (In fact, I never would have guessed that you had an interest in this topic if you hadn't discussed it here.) So I'm quite curious about what evidence you've seen that you're suffering a social stigma. 2. Turning back from the social to the medical: given that you seem to naturally tend toward a certain "high" weight (I presume it doesn't actually increase without bound!) to what extent have you considered the possibility that the medical establishment's definition of "overweight" is wrong, or doesn't apply to you? 3. Do you think you would be experiencing the same phenomenon if you were living in the ancestral environment? Why or why not? 4. Have you tried eating less (e.g. only one meal per day)? If so, what was the result? If not, what do you predict would happen to your weight?
5khafra10yGiven that Eliezer has expressed this concern a few times already, I'd like to see someone better known than me and/or more involved with SIAI start a wepay [https://www.wepay.com/] fund to get him a personal trainer. I would contribute the first $300 to such a fund, and consider it existential risk reduction, given the cognitive and longevity benefits of physical fitness.
4ewang10yI think that the guilt and loss of self esteem that that would cause might outweigh the benefits, causing an existential risk increase.
6NancyLebovitz10yMy impression is that getting so tired from moderate exercise is way outside the normal range. I have no idea if it might indicate a medical problem, or is just individual variation.It may just be that the cultural belief that exercise is good for everyone is false. An alternate possibility is that you move very inefficiently. I was shocked to find out how much muscle tension was restricting my breathing, and how much difference it made to loosen up even somewhat. The best book I've seen for exploring that is The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan: T5T: The Revolutionary Exercise Program That Restores Your Body and Mind [http://www.amazon.com/10-Minute-Rejuvenation-Plan-Revolutionary-Exercise/dp/0307347176] . There's a certain amount of woo woo in it, but there's also clear explanations of how to get more flexibility and relaxation so that you can get more air, and there's a warm-up which improved my body awareness to the point that I could realize that a move which was difficult for me was because my shoulders and chest were too tight, rather than because I was an inferior person or because the universe was out to get me. I'd also hypothesized that muscle tension might be the problem, but there's a huge difference between a hypothesis and actually feeling what was going on when I did the move. On the other hand, the way tenseness interacts with exercise for me is that exercise tends to feel really bad to me (less so as I become less tense), and then I stop, so t don't know whether I'd end up with that much exhaustion if I pushed.
5PhilGoetz10yAre you exercising to lose weight, gain strength or muscle, or increase endurance? Those three things are very different. Exercising for endurance works for everyone, AFAIK; and exercising to build muscle works for everyone up to some plateau (which is barely perceptible for women, and some men). But exercise is not always an effective way of losing weight, because your body may make you as hungry as it needs to, to get you to make up the weight you lost during exercise. Losing weight requires being hungry, and it's not clear that exercising gives an advantage. For people who have that problem, exercise geared towards building muscle may be a more effective way of losing weight. You'll get even hungrier than with endurance exercise, and eat more, but your body will probably save less of those calories as fat. For me, if I do something really interesting all day long, I may forget to eat. But then I'm likely to binge just before bed, which negates the gain. I haven't found low-fat food very useful; my impression is that I eat more of it. Artificial sweeteners make me able to resist drinking soda and juice, but some experiments have shown artificial sweeteners increase weight gain in rodents and people; reasons are not known. The real fat-builders are soda and juice. Both pack a huge, swift bolus of calories. Many people think juice is "healthy" because it's natural, but it has hella calories. And all sorts of "diet food" and "exercise drinks", like Gatorade and Slim-Fast, are basically flavored sugar and will make you fat. Some people think fat calories make them fatter than sugar or carb calories. I doubt it. If anything, I'd guess sugar builds more fat per calorie, because fat needs to go through a lot of catabolic and then anabolic processing before being stored as fat. (Your body doesn't just suck up fat globules from the lymph and deposit them into cells.) Somebody with a biology degree should know the answer. You could experiment with when you eat, what
4NancyLebovitz10yFor what it's worth, I bounced your situation off my therapist who's also an RN and a serious martial artist. He says you're up against something weird and he doesn't know what it might be. And off one of my friends who is a lay person but has a lot of medical knowledge. Very tentatively, you might be up against thyroid or adrenal issues. Theory which is at least cheap and safe to check: you might not be eating enough salt. This can cause low energy. And if this is the case, you might need more salt than most people-- one of my friends is semi-metabolically privileged (does trail running for the fun of it, is fairly fat anyway), and if he doesn't eat a good bit of salt, he falls over.
4Desrtopa10yIf you're not in particularly good shape to start with, any pace you can sustain in cardiovascular exercise for a full hour may not be very effective as exercise. You might get better results by starting with shorter time periods, closer to 25-35 minutes, at sufficient intensity to induce fatigue.
[-][anonymous]10y 7

How do you write a will?

The following is not legal advice for your situation, despite the occasional use of the second person. Rather, it is general commentary about how wills work.

There are four good options: (1) do it yourself (2) hire a lawyer ($200 - $3,000) (3) use a legal forms service such as LegalZoom.com ($30 - $100) (4) buy a how-to book from a company like Nolo ($15 - $40)

If you do it yourself, you will need to think about what you own, decide who you would like to get that stuff when you die, and then write your instructions down on a piece of paper. You should then find two adults who are (a) not your relatives, and (b) not mentioned in the will to be your witnesses. Reassure the witnesses that you are sane, thinking clearly, and acting of your own free will. Then sign the will by writing your name in both print and cursive at the bottom. Add today's date. Then have each of your witnesses do the same. Have the witnesses write "witness" next to their signatures. Finally, make two photocopies of the will. Keep one in your desk for handy reference, give one to a friend or family member for publicity, and put the original in a safe deposit box at a bank for safekeeping.

If you decide to... (read more)

5Psychohistorian10yThis is a fairly complex legal question. Depending on the size of your estate, you probably want to hire a lawyer. I believe you can find a number of legal services that will do flat-rate wills for (I think) a couple hundred bucks. This is probably most important if you have kids or a lot of assets. If you don't have kids, and you don't have a lot of assets, or you seriously dislike lawyers, you can put together a will from a pre-made form [http://www.free-legal-document.com/how-to-write-a-will.html] and get witnesses (who are not beneficiaries) to sign the will, ideally in the presence of a notary public. Legal documents are often highly technical and vary meaningfully from state to state. Some of this is defensible - you'd be surprised how things can get messed up - and some of it exists to keep lawyers employed. If it's really important - if you are not a mostly asset-free student willing various odds and ends to family - it's probably worth having it done professionally. Five or ten minutes on google searching for estate lawyers in your area will probably do the trick; or you can look for the fixed-rate will deals from bigger businesses that I mentioned earlier.
4mutterc10yWell worth asking a lawyer, because they know some ins and outs. My wife and I did this after our first child was born. It was a few hundred bucks to get wills, general powers of attorney, and healthcare powers of attorney for both of us. (Our situation was simple: leave everything to each other or the kids if we both kick it, and designate a guardian for the kids). We'd have gotten living wills but haven't decided what we want them to say. The lawyer put in a bunch of things we would never have thought of, e.g.: Making the will sibling-proof (it divides everything equally amongst all children we might end up having, which turned out to be 2) Waiving the requirement that our out-of-State executor post a bond Authorizing the executor to open safe deposit boxes and the like

Salmonella bacteria is killed instantly at 165°F. Cooking small chopped or sliced pieces of meat is hard to do wrong because the surface area to volume ratio is high enough that they will be sterilized even before they start to appear cooked. Make your slices less than 1/2 inch thick and cook them until they start to turn golden brown. As long as the business ends of your utensils are in contact with the food as it cooks they will be sterilized along with it.

Assuming that you already know how to wash things in general, you don't need to do it any different... (read more)

7rhollerith_dot_com10yWe should add that soapy water does not kill the bacteria, but rather makes it impossible for them to adhere to anything, so they get washed down the drain.

Washing bacteria down the drain is certainly the primary purpose for using soap, by far, but surfactants like soap also kill a few bacteria by lysis (disruption of the cell membrane, causing the cells to rapidly swell with water and burst). In practice, this is so minor it's not worth paying attention to: bacteria have a surrounding cell wall made of a sugar-protein polymer that resists surfactants (among other things), dramatically slowing down the process to the point that it's not practical to make use of it.

(Some bacteria are more vulnerable to surfactant lysis than others. Gram-negative bacteria have a much thinner cell wall, which is itself surrounded by a second, more exposed membrane. But gram-positive bacteria have a thick wall with nothing particularly vulnerable on the outside, and even with gram-negative bacteria the scope of the effect is minor.)

In practice, the big benefit of soap is (#1) washing away oils, especially skin oils, and (#2) dissolving the biofilms produced by the bacteria to anchor themselves to each other and to biological surfaces (like skin and wooden cutting boards). Killing the bacteria directly with soap is a distant third priority.

For handwash... (read more)

[-][anonymous]7y 6

Well, the Efficient Market Hypothesis is wrong on a fundamental level -- its stated conditions for market efficiency often fail to prevail in the real world. Panics are one of those times, and being more rational than other people is not a free lunch, but in fact a Substantial Effort for Good Return Lunch.

(I've seen one paper actually proving, rather humorously, that EMH is completely true IFF P = NP.)

Are you claiming that there is literally no way of using this information to reliably extract money from the stock market? This surprises me.

I'll reuse my example: if you knew for certain that Facebook would be as huge as it was, what stocks, exactly, would you have invested in, pre-IPO, to capture gains from its growth? Remember, you don't know anything else, like that Google will go up from its IPO, you don't know anything about Apple being a huge success - all you know is that some social network will some day exist and will grow hugely. The best I c... (read more)

Not really, because if you're pretending to be satirical in order to say exactly what you think, the plausible deniability goes out the window if you own up to it. See also Ha Ha Only Serious.

And this is just too perfect:

Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death
is one who deceives a neighbor and says, “I was only joking!" (Proverbs 26:18-19)

Via TVTropes. I had to look it up independently before I believed they hadn't just made it up.

The thing that really worked for me was that I was writing a fanzine at the time (1990), so had plenty of stuff I had to type. So I learnt all the keys, was at 20wpm which was slightly less than the 23-25wpm I could do two-fingered, and went ahead typing actual stuff I had to type properly with ten fingers.

tl;dr Have actual stuff to type, use your new skill.

If your dorm is like the ones I'm familiar with, there may be a shared cleaning supply closet from which your RA or similar can fetch you a vacuum that you are free to use. Failing that, you could put a sign on your door offering five euros for the use of a vacuum and see who knocks.

Or awake-in-the-morning or not.

So... here's the thing. You and wedrifid are doing something that has me concerned.

Specifically, you're putting me into a position where, for consistency, I feel compelled to argue a case for something that I myself don't currently have a hugely high degree of confidence in... simply because you're not actually providing in your arguments, any information which I could either specifically agree or disagree with.

IOW, comments like, "quack", "laughable", and "noise" do not give me any information about your epistemology, and ... (read more)

salt water (a fantastically good conductor by non-metallic standards).

Physics question (for anyone who knows the answer): when lightning strikes somewhere in the ocean, why isn't every living organism in the entire ocean electrocuted? How far away do you have to be to avoid being fried? How does one calculate this?

8gwern10yI'm not a physics major, but this is how I would reason: a regular human usually survives [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_strike#Human_injury] a lightning strike, IIRC. Why would fish be any different? It might hurt them but they have simpler nervous systems to boot. So my initial guess is that no fish at all is hurt, no more than they are fried by the sun unleashing gigawatts onto the ocean. But that's a cheap answer, perhaps. Let's try another route. A human isn't that big compared to a tuna fish, but is pretty big compared to things like trout or salmon. Let's say we weigh 100x as much as those small fish. Lightning is a one-shot packet of energy - like quickly blinking a flashlight. As the light spreads away from the flashlight, it begins to fade out. (Why isn't the entire earth illuminated?) Well, there's a fixed number of photons released, and the sphere/area they are spread over keeps getting bigger as they go - it increases as the square of how far away they are. It's like gravity: you get an inverse square law [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverse-square_law]. Squares increase pretty fast - 2^2 = 4, 3^2 = 9, 4^2 = 16 etc. So if we humans are 2 feet around from the 'epicenter', how many units of 2 feet do we have to go to cut the strength by 1/100 and give the little fish a little fish-sized dose? Well, the square root of 100 is 10, so 10 2-feets is 20 feet. In other words, by this reasoning, I'd expect even little fish to survive a lightning strike around 20 feet away. 20 feet is much smaller than an ocean. This is all high-school physics at best; all you really have to do is think about why gravity follows an inverse square law, analogize a space-filling gravity to light, and guess some numbers in the best spirit of Fermi calculations [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_problem].
3tgb9yFor what it's worth, it is quite possible to at least stun fish through electricity. I know people who have done this for scientific studies of fish. It's called Electrofishing [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrofishing] and is restricted in most places because it makes over fishing easy and requires some significant caution on the part of the fisher (you're wearing a backpack designed to produce high voltage while standing in water).
[-][anonymous]10y 6

Strangers are a potential threat. So when a stranger comes up to you and initiates a conversation, there's some reason to be on your guard.

This is combined with basic etiquette. If someone makes a small request, it is considered rude to refuse. The problem here is that creepy weird dangerous strangers can take advantage of this fact by making a small request, which then makes you feel obligated to comply. So now a complete stranger, who may be dangerous, has ensnared you. You're now doing something that he asked, instead of something that you want to do. A... (read more)

I think you're missing part of JGWeissman's argument, which is somewhat understandable as he hasn't explicitly spelled it out.

The fact that the Maillard reaction was, most likely, present in ancient cooking does not imply that the results of that reaction are harmless. It's evidence in that direction, but it's not conclusive. In particular, the fact that the compounds caused by the Maillard reaction build up over time and lead to a somewhat earlier death, rather than being a faster-acting kind of poison, make it hard for evolution to select against liking ... (read more)

To free your eyes so that they can "hold on to" and follow your ideas.

ETA: for this reason I also use texmacs instead of latex.

This is another question that may lack a simple answer, and indeed there is a good chance that this is simply a wrong question in the first place.

Background: So going by LW and indeed much of the rest of the internet it seems that speaking to arbitrary strangers in public is in fact not in general considered creepy and unacceptable (which makes this a case where I would have done better with the typical mind heuristic, as opposed to what I guess is some sort of version of Postel's Law, as I am not myself in general creeped out when others approach me).

Now ... (read more)

8sixes_and_sevens10yIn the public space in question, are you more likely to find books or alcohol? Pretty much any venue with alcohol is going to be a socially facilitating venue, whereas anywhere people take books is going to be a venue where they don't expect to be disturbed.
6Nick_Tarleton10yIf, as it sounds, you would learn from any mistakes, and if you're somewhere populous enough that a randomly selected person's opinion of you doesn't matter, I doubt that imposing this restriction on yourself is right, or benefits others more than it costs you. You're allowed to briefly creep people out by mistake in order to learn useful things and reap the mutual benefits of non-creepy interactions. Where do you think the "be conservative in what you do" is coming from in your case?
4Sniffnoy10yPerhaps I should further specify just what sort of spaces I'm clear and unclear on. (All "maybe"s, "probably"s refer to my own uncertainty, of course - for simplicity I'm doing writing this as if I hadn't read any of the cousin posts yet.) The examples listed here are whatever I think of, mostly relevant ones but not all - I don't think there's a zoo anywhere around here and I haven't been to one in quite some time, but the example occurred to me while I was writing this so I threw it in. I expect I'm right about the things I'm certain of but should that not be the case corrections would be appreciated! 1. Definitely OK to approach people: "Private public spaces" - anywhere where a person you don't know can be assumed to be a friend of a friend - small parties, common rooms in dorms or co-op houses 2. OK to join existing conversations, maybe not OK to approach people initially: "Purposed public spaces" - anywhere where a person you don't know can be assumed to share a common interest - a common room in a school department building, e.g. Game stores probably fit here too. Also probably competitions of any sort. 3. Probably OK but currently avoided by me: Outside - on the street, on the quad, in the park. Here the location doesn't let you infer much of anything. (Unless something unusual is occurring, then clearly OK as people gather around it.) 4. ???: Fast-food places or food courts. Non-quiet spaces where people go to get work done (but which are too general to fall under #2.) Zoos, museums, other similar places. Bookstores. 5. Probably not OK: Libraries. 6. Definitely not OK: Anywhere where you shouldn't be talking in the first place. Most restaurants. Again, thanks! The sibling posts have already clarified things some.

My suggestion: take a crash course in etiquette by going to another city nearby, and then spend a few days walking around asking questions, or inviting people to do stuff with you, etc. Condition yourself to get used to the occasional weird look, learn what you can get away with, and possibly make friends with people you would otherwise never meet. If all else fails, drive out of the city and pretend the entire thing never happened. Or you will get some amusing stories to share with me when you get back. How can you lose?

I am only partly joking, my social skills are so mediocre I have seriously considered doing exactly this at some point. I might throw in some speed dating as well for good measure.

7Jolly10yI do this all the time, with fantastic results! A current example is my temporary move to Boston/Cambridge. I've walked around asking random strangers questions such as "If you could live anywhere in Boston, where would you live?" I've received great advice, and made a few friendships and event invites from doing so!
4ViEtArmis9yI can't tell if people actually don't care or if they are just oblivious, but I hate when people try to strike up a conversation while I'm using a public toilet. Bad when it's a urinal, worse when it's a stall. Maybe this falls under "spaces where people go to get work done"?
3first_fire10yI spend a fair amount of my time off work either on public transportation or in coffee shops, and have found that how receptive people are to starting conversations varies widely within these settings. On public transportation, there are observations one can make which can aid with determining whether someone is open to conversation. If they are already engaged in conversation with another passenger and appear either happy or lost, it is more often appropriate (people who are happy tend to have farther to go on their mood spectrum to get to creeped out or annoyed, as well as sometimes, as with the people I befriended a couple weeks ago, being in the mood to share their happiness with others, and people who are lost generally appreciate direction or at least a clarification of where they are on the map). A person confined to the seat next to you is less likely to be happy about a conversation, as they will feel they have less of an exit than, say, in a section where all seats face a middle aisle, meaning the area in which the conversation takes place is felt to be larger. In my experience, few people like to start conversations on their morning commute. So the important factors which determine whether it is appropriate to speak to someone on public transportation are time of day, physical position, and mood. Coffee shops follow similar guidelines: it is often appropriate to chime in to existing conversations (as long as the conversation is not romantic or argumentative in nature). When a person might be forced by lack of seating to share your table, it is not appropriate to start a conversation if both of you have laptops, as you can be reasonably expected to be engaged with other people or projects. If the other person does not have a laptop or other electronic device with which they are engaged, it is generally appropriate to start a conversation. I have found coffee shops environments where it is sometimes received well to butt in to interesting conversations.

I have heard from some people that having a reputation as bisexual has increased their prospects with women. I suspect this is dependent on location, social circle, and attractiveness.

It may also be that a large percentage of women are no longer interested, but enough of the women that remain are significantly more interested- and so you go from, say, 20 women who might date you to 10 women who might date you, of whom 2 want to. Overall prospects down, but easy prospects up.

(I will comment, though, that this probably has to do way more with the masculine/feminine balance of the people in question than their sexual history or orientation.)

I've read enough accounts from people with thyroid problems to gather that the usual tests don't catch all of them-- I don't remember a lot of details (will check what I've got if anyone wants), but apparently the standard test is for a surrogate measurement which might or might not be relevant. And there's argument about what the normal range for thyroid hormones are. However, if you're lucky, Synthroid is effective, safe, and cheap.

More generally, another more comprehensive blood test isn't a bad idea, but going in with more specific ideas about what you... (read more)

The Bizarre World of the Bisexual - it's all 100% true! [1]

[1] Statement of 100% truth may not be 100% true.

It's pretty important not to overdo perfume/cologne, as there's a lot of variation in people's sensitivity to odors (and odor preferences). One squirt or dab is usually more than enough. In addition, the person who is wearing the scent becomes habituated to it after a few minutes, so "I can't smell myself anymore" isn't a good reason to put on more.

This doesn't help someone figure out things like 'red and blue are not 'like colors' but blue and yellow can be'

Especially if you like green. :P

4ikrase8yDo not leave pieces of colored paper in the pockets of clothing before washing.
[-][anonymous]10y 6

The typing class I took was by far the best, most useful class I had in four years of high school -- and the only one where I could not have learned the material better by simply being left alone in a quiet room with the textbook. (Although being left alone with a computer and a decent learn-to-type program would probably have done just as well; but this was 1994 and my school had typewriters, not computers, so the teacher was actually useful.)

I can walk farther after getting in a couple of weeks of regular walking.

That's it.

Basically, "no effect that I can detect with the naked eye".

[-][anonymous]10y 6

That sounds like an exhausting process without a way to judge openness to atheism quickly.

I think you could suss it out on the first date. You might have to use some trial-and-error -- and conversations with other atheist men -- in order to come up with the perfect line that raises the question without coming off as overly aggressive, but you can get a pretty good picture of how committed a woman is to her religion just by asking her.

The general advice to people with specific requirements (I admit I'm getting this from Dan Savage's advice to people with... (read more)

When I wear the device, there are eight motors positioned around my ankle. The one pointing most closely to north vibrates. As I move, there is sometimes some lag before a motor changes state, but when I'm still, there is always one motor buzzing, or else two motors kind of taking turns. (Actually, one of the motors doesn't work, because I burned the circuit board at its contact >< But that still tells me something.)

I'm not totally used to it yet--the buzzing is a little uncomfortable when it goes on for too long in one spot (like sitting in a car dr... (read more)

One orange is one or two servings of fruit... but a serving of orange juice is four oranges.

You're getting all the sugar and calories of four oranges (4 - 8 servings of fruit!) without any of the fiber.

Fruit juices aren't exactly the devil, but they're not especially nutritious either.

I've got another one that's about to be relevant to me. What should you do in order to be an effective manager?

I am an engineer and will soon be "in charge" of another engineer. I have had a couple bosses with various good and bad qualities, and obviously I want to emulate the good qualities and avoid the bad ones.

Is there a good procedure to begin being an effective supervisor of technical people? There is a vast of array of books and websites on management, but I think there's a very low rationality quotient.

5MartinB10yRecommended reading: Peopleware, and The Mythical Man Month. My managing experiences so far have been in the unpaid/voluntary field. But in general it seems to be * generally be fast and clear in responding to communication (read: email) * ability to stay calm in pressurized situations Outside Interface: * make it possible for your people to do actually their work * get them the tools and environment needed * take care of systemic problems (Usually limited by your higher ups and corporate rules.) Inside interface * Bubble each individuals work by taking care of deadlines, putting suitable people into projects, checking in at times if the work is getting done. * you can possibly get extra points if you adapt your managing to each person. * search for 'how to manage your boss' and look what would work best on the other end Recommended skills * people skills * ridiculous high level of being organized * specifically: have efficient and few meetings The talks from Merlin Mann: Who moved my brain? and possible the others might be of use. If you can get a mentor with a similar background from yours.

I stutter, and I've done it for as long as I can remember. Anyone know how to beat it? I feel this has pretty significant (negative) effects on my life, because I'm often afraid of speaking up in a group, as stuttering is extremely embarrassing.

4TheOtherDave10yMy only experience with stuttering was while I was recovering from post-stroke aphasia. My speech therapist mostly suggested that every time I started to stutter I should stop trying to talk altogether, take a deliberate pause, and then concentrate on articulating... each... word... individually instead of letting my brain rush on ahead to the stuff I was about to say. Or, if that wasn't enough, articulating each syllable. That worked pretty well, though it replaced the stuttering with a kind of slow monotone speech that was also kind of embarrassing. Fortunately for me, the brain damage was temporary, so after a few months of this I started being able to speak more smoothly again. (Toastmasters helped a lot with that part, as did improv theatre classes.) I have no idea if the same sorts of techniques would work for a less acute form of stuttering, though it seems like they ought to. Edit Oh, and the other thing that helped was getting enough sleep.

I would not be happy about my normal eating habits resulting in food poisoning 1 time in 50. I eat 3 meals per day, and would expect to get food poisoning nearly twice per month. Fortunately, my actual eating habits have a far better track record than that.

I live in the US. If I want to mail someone an item bigger than can be fit in a simple envelope, what is the procedure for determining the proper packaging, postage, etc? Will I have to actually bring the package to the post office to have them determine that? What is the protocol for doing so?

8Jonathan_Graehl10yThere's a flat rate USPS box [https://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10001&storeId=10052&categoryId=10000036&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=10000002&top_category=10000002] deal. You're limited to just a few fixed boxed sizes. It's cheaper than Fedex or UPS.

There are many who believe that the key to better hair is NOT using as much shampoo. Use as little as possible in order to not have greasy hair. This takes time to master. Some people need a full scrub every day. Some people need almost nothing. The homeostatis of your scalp is the key: using less shampoo should, over time, make your scalp produce less oil.
I'm down to a point where I go a day or two rinsing only, sometimes just a little bit of extra soap from when I washed my neck. When I wash my hair, I use very little shampoo...the bare minimum. T... (read more)

Personal hygiene. The internet has eluded me on what is the best method for washing your body. I've always put soap on a washcloth and used that to scrub myself. I used to get really dry skin and I don't know if this was from my method. It seems like there are lots of different techniques---sponges, washcloths, scrubbers, body wash, lotions. What do they do?

How do you keep hair looking nice? Sometimes I use a comb, but it still goes all over the place. I usually keep my hair short to avoid dealing with this.

5noveldevice10yI am female. I put soap on a washcloth and rub it on my body, then rinse well. Once out of the shower or bath, I use body lotion. I am frequently told that I smell good and/or delicious, so I'm pretty sure I am doing it right. :) If you have dry skin, use lotion or look for a soap that is milder. I have a lot of allergies so I use Ivory, which doesn't have a lot of extra perfume and no colourants or other additives. You can also use small-batch artisanal soaps, which are risky if you have allergies but may be less drying because a lot of them are superfatted and/or made with goat's milk and that sort of thing. I don't like bath poufs because they feel weird and are gross over time. I own a loofah gourd, which I use when I feel particularly needful of exfoliation, but mostly it's the washcloth for me. Basically it's going to be what kind of texture you like to feel, as far as what you use for scrubbing (a lot of people use their hands, but I don't feel clean enough if I do that), and product wise, use what makes your skin feel good. For hair, go get a good haircut from a good stylist. If you are paying less than $30 in most markets you are getting a dreadful haircut. I routinely expect to pay $70 for a haircut because I have thick curly hair. If you like what the stylist does, ask them to recommend products and show you how to use them. If you do not, wait till it grows a bit, try another stylist. Ask your friends and coworkers where they get their hair cut. If you have a male friend who always looks particularly well-groomed, ask him who does his hair. This is how most people find stylists.
7HughRistik10yProducts and tools are very important for hair.

Err towards generous tipping.

Actually, this is something I meant to ask about. Not how much to tip, which has well been covered elsewhere, but how one goes about the actual action of giving someone a tip. (I am generalizing beyond bars here).

Craigslist has worked for me. Expect to spend some money on repairing the car. Taking it to a mechanic first seems like a big deal but you will need to take it there and you may as well take it there before buying it.

I've always assumed that this is something inborn instead of learned -- hopefully, that assumption (which come to think of it I've never really questioned) is wrong -- but I have a very hard time orienting myself. When I'm walking up the stairwell in my apartment, I have no idea whether I am walking towards the road, away from the road, or perpendicular to it. I can sit down with a pencil and paper and draw it and figure it out by looking at it from a 'birds eye' perspective. But when I'm standing in a room with opaque walls and trying to imagine what room is on the other side, I just get really confused.

I think that this sounds like too much work to learn manually, so I am embracing transhumanism and making a compass belt.

5SRStarin10yThis weekend I finally finished my compass anklet [http://sensebridge.net/projects/northpaw/]. It's pretty impressive how quickly the human brain can include a new sense. I'm looking forward to taking it geocaching!

I do not know if this is a practical, general or transferable solution, but it worked for me: throughout my childhood I couldn't orient myself, and I finally taught myself at the age of 24.

Start from a place where you can see quite some distance in all (or most) directions. Outside is best. If you can see, but are not within, a downtown core, you're in a good spot. Ditto mountains, or other tall landmarks.

Now ignore those landmarks. They're untrustworthy. If you can see them, they're close enough that sometimes they'll be north and sometimes west and sometimes right on top of you. They can be a good marker for your position, but not for your orientation. You need an orientation marker.

So instead, look in the other direction, the most featureless cardinal direction you can find. Then imagine a huge, fictional geographic element just over the horizon, and tell yourself it's in that direction: living in Edmonton at the time, I used the mantra, "The desert is west."

This is a fictional desert. (Or sea, or taiga, or forest.) It is always west. (Or east, or southeast, or north.) For this process to work, you can't actually pick a real landscape, or it becomes possi... (read more)

5bogdanb10yFrom what you say I think my orientation skills are quite a bit better compared to yours, though I’m not one of those people who always know where they are and which way is everything else. As far as I can tell, based on just introspection and comparing my “success rate” for various orientation tasks, there are quite a few different more-or-less specialized mechanism in the mind that handle this, and when they are employed differs with the kind of task. As far as I can tell, my brain at least deals very differently with, for example, navigating a well-known territory and navigating in places I don’t know personally (even though I may have seen a map). When I go through places I know well—the areas I frequent around places I lived a few days in—I navigate and pick routes almost instantly; I can walk or drive quite complex routes, even routes I never followed before (but through places I know), without ever thinking or paying attention (I mean, I pay attention to the road, not to the route). But this seems to be based on a type of memory that associates the directions relative to where I am with destinations. For example, it often happens that I don’t remember, say, what places follow after the next turn, but I know that I have to go that way to reach some destination; once I turn I’ll remember the “next step”. But it’s not a memory of “routes”, because I can and do on occasion do the same thing with routes that are not common, as long as they pass through places I know. (E.g., I might do a detour that never happened before unconsciously.) Also, it’s not quite spatial memory, because for places like this I don’t have any awareness of their relative location on a map. (That is, I can follow an instinctive route between two distant points, even a route I never followed exactly before, but I can’t tell afterwards if the destination was north or south of the starting point.) However, in places I’m not yet familiar with things seem to be very different. Generally I can

I'm not aware of a gap in my procedural knowledge, but many skills are still fuzzy and basic. The internet serves extreme beginners and specialized experts well, but I've found reference books to be the best resource for the middle ground. Some that have helped me domestically:

  • New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated: Basic cookbook that explain the testing and intuition behind a recipe.
  • America's Test Kitchen cookbooks: Also from Cook's Illustrated, these books tend to explain why a recipe is what it is and give tips on technique or what cuts of meat wor
... (read more)

I've spent some time in bars, so I think I can handle this one.

1) Observe the bar, some have an area or two "designated" for walkup, others expect you to shoulder your way inbetween people. There is usually an area bounded by two big silver or brass handles. This is so the bartender can get out in a hurry to help the bouncer, and in many bars it's where the waitresses go to get their orders filled. Do Not Go There, you are getting in the way of working folk, and are making other working folk wait longer for THEIR drinks.

2) If it's busy know what you want before you go up there. Save your experimentation and questioning for a slow period. When it doubt "Whiskey, Neat", or "Vodka, neat". If you're having a day "Whiskey, double".

3) If you'd like to run a tab proffer your credit card and ask. Some places don't do it, some don't take credit. Also have some cash Just In Case.

4) If you have a preference (for example I don't drink canadian whiskey straight, and I won't drink a whiskey and coke if they use pepsi. So I ask "do you have pepsi or coke" [1]) ask BEFORE ordering. If you really don't care you will (generally) be asked for a pre... (read more)

4SilasBarta10yIt's subtleties like this that make me wish for the "how it works" signs [http://lesswrong.com/lw/453/procedural_knowledge_gaps/3hsc] I suggested. OTOH, there could be some invisible filtering going on: perhaps bars wouldn't even want the kind of customer that doesn't have a "sponsor" that can accustom them to the many rules there. On the third hand, establishments do resort to "how it works" signs when either a) everyone is more ignorant than they would like (e.g. sub shop Quizno's posting of how to order a sandwich), or b) the downside of not knowing how it works is severe (e.g. emergency rooms, safety warnings). I just think cases like a) and b) are more common than the prevalence of "how it works" signs would indicate.
5NancyLebovitz10yI agree-- I think people generally have a hard time imagining that what's easy for them is hard for other people. "Some people have a way with words, and other people, um.... thingy." was a revelation for me-- it had literally never occurred to me what it might be like to not have words come easily.
[-][anonymous]10y 12

I just want to second your cookbook recommendations--Cook's Illustrated especially. Almost all their products are extremely high-quality, and they have a very Less Wrong-friendly stance on cooking, which is to test everything. Before they publish a cookie recipe they'll make like twenty different versions, and have their taste-testers do blind tastings, and they'll publish the one that tastes best.

Alton Brown's "Good Eats" TV show is also probably Less Wrong-friendly because it puts a heavy emphasis on the chemistry and science of cooking.

Alice Waters' "The Art of Simple Food" is another good cookbook for beginners, because it walks you through everything: shopping for ingredients, choosing your pots and pans, the different techniques (i.e. what it means to "mince" an onion versus "dicing" it), prepping for cooking, etc.

[-][anonymous]10y 6

How do you fold a fitted sheet? The time I tried to follow Martha Stewart's instructions I took a wrong turn somewhere, and just ended up with a wadded-up ball of sheet as per usual. And I didn't care enough to unfold and try again. Do you know a different/easier technique?

6Alicorn10yName the corners A, B, C, and D, clockwise around the sheet with A as the upper left and A-B forming a long side of the sheet. Tuck corner A into corner B, so the one is nested inside the other. Then, avoiding twisting the sheet, tuck corner D into corner C similarly. Then, tuck corner AB into corner CD. You should now have a rectangle that will lie fairly flat. Fold it up like you would fold a flat thing.

This has been upvoted a lot. Does anyone think I should move it to Main?

Edit: Apparently so. Moved.

How do you convince yourself to have self-confidence in a given situation, even in the face of direct empirical evidence that such confidence would be misplaced in that situation?

This seems to be a thing that many successful people are very good at - shrugging and acting like they're good at whatever task is at hand, even when they're clearly not - and then getting people to "buy in" to them because of that confidence rather than because of any evidence of actual skilled performance.

How do you kickstart that process?

(EDIT: was this a bad question to ask?)

4Risto_Saarelma8yThink how you would perform the role of a self-confident character when acting in a play?

Do more research. Is this even nonpublic knowledge at all? The world economy grows at something like 2% a year, labor costs generally seem to go up, prices of computers and robotics usually falls... Do industry projections expect to grow their sales by <25% a year?

If so, I might spend some of my hypothetical money on whatever the best approximation to a robotics index fund I can find, as the best of a bunch of bad choices. (Checking a few random entries in Wikipedia, maybe a fifth of the companies are publicly traded, so... that will be a pretty small index.) But I wouldn't be really surprised if in 10 years, I had not outperformed the general market.

Random presentation of clues implements the notoriously addictive variable ratio reinforcement schedule, as used by Farmville/WoW/etc. Potentially a big timewaster here.

Oh no! December is the end of the knuckle calendar! The world is going to end then!

Most shirts are "classic fit" or something along those lines. Well fitting shirts for slim people are "fitted" or "slim fit" or some such. "modern" is usually in between. The same goes for tshirts and pants. http://www.primermagazine.com/2011/field-manual/how-to-wear-a-tucked-in-shirt-without-looking-like-an-old-man

You can also get a tailor to slim your shirts. This runs about 30 USD/shirt at a tailor shop but sometimes you can find people offering such services on craigslist for less.