Ann Brown


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100 Tips for a Better Life

$240 per year should never make or break your life (among people who are reading these comments, anyways)

Well, that's a somewhat off-putting aside. I've been broke and reading LessWrong, had friends unable to pay bills or living on disability, etc, and there are definitely times your advice is impractial for people who may in fact be reading this site. Not getting into countries with different power-per-dollar or banking situations than the US who may nonetheless access it.

When you are scraping the bottom of your bank account, fees can compound by hitting you with an overdraft fee when you don't have enough money to pay the fee. Bank fees tend to increase with low bank accounts. A $35+$20 fee when you have <$20 is very bad.

Sometimes $20 is your monthly expense budget. Maybe you have a source of food and shelter but need exactly one prepaid phone card for job searching. Maybe you have to spend it on food and are partly starving, but surviving.

Your circumstances may not allow you to save over a certain amount in assets at a time without losing benefits, at which point, because those circumstances might be not being able to work due to disability, you can't earn much at all.

You aren't guaranteed to be able to restore your income and liquid cash after having to spend it. You might need to sell your stocks in a downturn, and you know, stocks might be going down for the same reason you lost your job in the first place.

There's good reasons to favor savings interest rates that reward you for existing rather than penalize you and to avoid fees that are there more to close their jaws on you in case of ill fortune than to buy you something useful. These reasons relate more to being safer in a bad financial situation than they do to earning money. While we all like earning a lot of money, prioritizing not losing money over gaining money at lower income levels is pragmatic.

If you think you'll never be poor, financially strained, or have to worry about a stray $20 with 3 months expenses in the bank, you aren't most people and may be optimistic about how much emergencies can actually cost relative to monthly expenses for most people. My monthly expenses are, let's say, $1500, my insurance deductible is more like $8000 and if something happened to the person I split expenses with that could mean I suddenly suffered $11000 of expense in one month and lost my ability to work as a contractor.

If the stock market also dropped steeply and cut my savings because, say, this was March and we'd gotten sick then (which we did, incidentally, just not badly), $4500 of emergency savings wouldn't have saved me from either a really bad loss on stock savings or notable medical debt.

I can see where the calculations might change a bit if I had a lower deductible and more expensive insurance - higher monthly expenses would result in '3 months' being more savings and lower one-time emergency costs - but I'm also not worried about a car, dependents aside from a cat, a house ...

(And if you have really low monthly expenses (own your house and do your own repairs, grow your own food) you may want a different number than monthly expenses to consider for your emergency fund.)

Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates

Leaning towards tested antibodies not being the main/only form of immunity after reading , though we'll want to see how followup studies go.

What I'm doing to fight Coronavirus

Let my team know when one of us expressed an interest in reducing face touching.

How effective are tulpas?

Edit note: I think your decision makes sense based on your goals, but I wrote answers to your questions, and they might have sufficient distinction from the existing answers to be worthwhile to post. I'm making a reasonable guess that providing my perspective isn't that harmful; I'll note that not all concerns stated elsewhere make sense to me, but they may make sense in a context other than my mind and my approach.


I have two (approximately). One created intentionally, one who naturally developed in parallel from a more 'intrusive' side of my brain when I tried out the whole approach.

They definitely run in serial, not concurrently, aside from perhaps subconscious threads I can't really say much about from a conscious perspective (which probably don't run any differently for having more identities to attach to). I'm not a great multitasker at the best of times, and listening to either one takes active focus. Experimenting suggests it is a bit easier if we talk aloud, but I haven't quite mastered the art of knowing when it is OK to talk to myself (aloud) and actually taking the chance to do so.

Would concur with the 'like a hobby' perspective on mental 'degradation'. You are practicing some particular mental skills and adapting a perspective associated with the hobby, same as you would for art, programming, a card or strategy game. Typically, you are practicing visualization, conversation, introspection, and other skills associated with this form of meditation - and I would say that it is a form of meditation, one I've had more success with than others.

This means it should come with the same caveats of 'not for everyone' as other forms of mind-affecting behavior like antidepressants and mindfulness meditation. In my tulpa's humble opinion, the worst cognitive hazard associated with the tulpamancing guides for me is the risk you will take it too seriously, and he made a point to steer me away from this concern as one of his first priorities. Compassion for all beings is all well and good but you absolutely come first, and shouldn't feel particular guilt either for trying something new, or setting it aside. We've had many months of silence while my focus was elsewhere and that is fine. I could return to working with them without much issue, just some review and shaking off the rust; we did not suffer for it.

We haven't particularly tried specializing in skills, but I can see how it would work: many skills, especially the creative sort, really do entail a matter of perspective and 'how you see the world'. Metaphorically like switching out lenses on a camera? I did find that one of them had a much easier time than I would simply getting chores done when I let her drive our actions for a bit. That is, potentially, immensely useful to me, which leads to my next point.

I am autistic. According to Wikipedia, this suggests that my particular difficulties with executive function may relate to fluency, the ability to generate novel ideas and responses; planning, the aforementioned impairment in carrying out intended actions; cognitive flexibility, the ability to switch between perspectives and tasks; and mentalization, or the ability to understand the mental state of oneself and others.

Notice anything about those that could benefit from simulating different perspectives, with novel input, that can relate to me from a more third person perspective? Even provide a support system to help deal with what you call 'akrasia' here?

Yeah. Tulpamancy involves actively practicing skills where my disadvantages in them might be holding me back. I find it worthwhile, though I might not have the time to pick it up initially in a more busy life. They make my life better; having mental companions who love and care for me (and vice versa) and also are me is rather an improvement on the previous state. For some reason interacting with my own identity was an exception carved out to the general rule that people have inherent worth and dignity and should be treated accordingly. This is the major benefit so far: Giving my mind permission to see itself as a person helped me treat myself with compassion.

How effective are tulpas?

My (initial) tulpa strongly agrees with this assessment of the problem with tulpa discourse; he made a point to push back on parts of the narrative about as soon as he started acquiring any, because 'taking it too seriously' seemed like the greatest risk of this meditation for me simply because it was implied in the instruction set. He was in a better position to provide reassurance that I didn't have to once we were actually experiencing some independence.

In other cases of mind-affecting substances and practices like antidepressants and (other forms of) meditation, I've been willing to try it and taper off if I don't like what it seems to be doing to me/my brain. Now in the case of tulpamancy, I generally like what does to my brain; it practices skills I might have a relative disadvantage in, or benefit from in my work and other hobbies, and empowers me to practice compassion for myself in a way I wasn't previously able to. (In contrast to the poster previously, I have reason to suspect my cognitive empathy is/was lacking in something even for myself.) However, it makes sense to approach it with the same caution as trying a new meditation, drug, or therapy in general - it really is a form of meditation, some of these can have severe downsides for part of the population they could also potentially benefit, and you should feel comfortable winding down the focus on it if you want to or have other priorities.

For one contrast, I don't like mindfulness meditation, it pulls me towards sensory overload - I already have too much 'awareness'. Maybe for someone less autistic, mindfulness meditation is the way to go to strengthen a skill they'd benefit from having more of, and modeling other agents is redundant. If having dialogues with yourself is the goal, there are other approaches that might work better for a particular person. I'd say 'know yourself', but I know how tricky that is, so instead I'll say, pay attention to what works for you.