Former tech entrepreneur (co-creator of the music software Sibelius). Among other things I now play the stock market, write software to predict it, and occasionally advise tech startups. I have degrees in philosophy.

Wiki Contributions


Yes, still doing this every morning, and it still works same as ever!

Somewhat relatedly, about 10 years ago I heard someone on the radio predicting that a long-term effect of social media would be greater acceptance of others' flaws, particularly youthful indiscretions that previously would have damaged a policitican's career - e.g. that they had smoked marijuana at college.

Such indiscretions would now be permanently documented on say Facebook when they occur. So everyone would gradually get used to the idea that such things are widespread and almost-normal, and almost all future politicians would be found to have such flaws/misdemeanours in their past. Expecting them to have none would become unrealistic, and if anything a politician with nothing bad visible in their past would seem not just squeaky-clean but abnormal, perhaps even weird.

This seemed quite a profound observation at the time, at least for the kind of analysis usually heard on the radio. But in the 10 years since I haven't particularly noticed this trend in public attitudes emerging. Or at least, judging by social media (probably unwise), in many ways there seems to be less tolerance than before. Or more likely a mixed picture - there is more tolerance of some things (e.g. being trans) but less of others (e.g. unfashionable views), and (as is often observed) social media amplifies intolerance as it makes for stronger clickbait. So possibly the overall trend in tolerance, or at least of tolerance apparent on social media, is flatter than predicted.

Re departmental historians: the UK's Foreign Office does have (or had) a small team of historians; someone I know was one of them for a year or two. Apparently they were writing up the history of the Foreign Office in chronological order, at slower than real time; hence were falling further and further behind. They had got up to 1947 or something, but would never catch up. When they completed the history of a year, it was published in an internal book (I assume not publicly available due to national security etc.), which went on a shelf and no-one ever read.

Each year the historians had to submit a justification for their continued existence. The guy I know said there was none, and they should just write: "The Foreign Office should close down its history department."

I suppose what this shows is that if internal historians have a use, it's important that they know the full departmental history, particularly recent decades; they are involved in departmental decisions; and the history is as up-to-date as possible.

Upvote, not least for my first ever sighting in the wild of the interrobang.

The thickness has units of something like [effect]/[work]

I.e. presumably benefit/cost (work being a cost, whether financial or not), = the benefit-cost ratio (BCR) used in cost-benefit analysis in economics.

Is the moral of this really that all decisions should be made so as to maximize the ultimate goal of happiness x longevity (of you or everyone), in utilitarian fashion; whereas maximizing for subgoals is sometimes/often a poor proxy?

Or is it impractical to do utilitarian calculus all the time, but calculations/heuristics with the thin and thick lines can clarify the role of the subgoals so they can be used as adequate proxies?

(It's partly unclear in my head as I didn't grok the exact meaning of the lines & their thicknesses. And it's too late at night for me to think about this!)

Others would have to report whether they find it more useful than what they do now (eg Pomodoro), but the reason I think it may well be is indeed the fact it fixes the various Pomodoro problems.

Re new downsides Third Time itself introduces, the one I'm aware of is indeed its extra complexity - hence it is best implemented in an app. But if others find other downsides, I'd be interested to hear of them.

(Alas I haven't got round to finishing Part 2 yet - been busy with other things, notably analyzing the academic research into what the best ways to spend a break are, which I'll write up in due course.)

Indeed - or simply break after completing a task - which also counts as a reward, hence an incentive to complete it. With the downside that you may be less motivated to resume work than if you're breaking in the middle of something.

This is really good stuff.

A minor suggestion: the list in prompt 5 is so important, I suggest it should be in bullets rather than a single paragraph, and ideally people should spend at least a minute or two thinking about each one.

On a detail (!) there are mouth guards (‘sleep clench inhibitors’) that you wear in your sleep to train you not to clench/grind your teeth both at night & in the daytime. I’ve used one; my dentist got one custom made to fit my teeth. You wear them nightly for a week initially, then just once every week or two. Unpleasant the first couple of nights, but you soon get used to them. Worked for me!

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