GuySrinivasan's Comments

Race for the Galaxy: 9 Choose 6

I like the idea of 9 choose 6, and might see my way to being on board with "No IV turn 1" with the variant. Without the variant, of course, trade must remain, or else windfall starts become quite bad. The extra freedom to play Settle on turn 1 without worries seems pretty balanced with not having a starting world in the first place.

As to this particular draw, I'll assume 4p. Smuggling Lair is very very good here. It's free which lets you keep the more-synergistic-than-usual cards you're going to start with, comes with a good, lets you leech off of Consume/Trades very well, and gives you an extra eventual point. Research Labs is not very good if you and your opponents are good; it's clunky, usually steals your green goods for points when you would rather cards, has a niche Produce benefit that is less likely to come up when you've got green synergies going, and has a strong Explore benefit but good players will be avoiding the Explore action as much as possible. I would definitely keep Smuggling Lair, discard Research Labs, and play Develop, with an eye toward your next 3 turns involving leeching off others' IV while getting down 2-3 of Genetics Labs, Rebel Warrior Race, and Ancient Race, then deciding what to do from there. Turn two depends on others' turn 1 plays, but the most likely line is Develop for Genetics Lab to put pressure on others' ability to usefully play developments or maybe Settle if 1+ folks played Bank/Credits/Works and there wasn't a Settle turn 1, to put pressure on others' economy in general and ensure your cardflow begins, which again would be safe with Smuggling Lair as your Settle because if someone finesses you with IV you still get the 2 cards.

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?

Ah, right. Twix. I forgot about this one. While depressed, I gradually ramped up my consumption of Twix from the vending machine near my office to over 1 per day (2 since they came in pairs?). I wanted to stop, tried several times and failed, remembered about a technique I'd seen on LW. Tried it. Have not had a single Twix for many years.

Technique: bought one Twix. Slowly, mindfully, broken off pieces and threw them in the trash, carefully imagining that I was tasting the Twix and that it was full of maggots. Took... a few minutes? Craving gone.

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?

Not sure. It was a handmade afghan which, when both it and my body were fully flat and at a normal angle (not diagonal), did not quite reach from above my head to below my feet. I am 5'10" and had a habit of covering my head with the blanket at night. (I retained that habit until half a year ago when I got a blindfold eye covering thinger that was actually comfortable.)

Now I use the enormous Costco blanket that's super soft and I highly recommend for yourself and for giving as gifts, except when it's too hot and I use a blanket which covers the entirety of a queen-sized bed.

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?

Stumbled, then confirmed. Circumstances were (a) my partner notified me that having all that back pain was not in fact normal, and (b) often sleeping under a sane blanket because my favored blanket was obviously inadequate for the both of us. Eventually connected the dots enough to form the hypothesis, then did a trial to confirm because I didn't want to give up my beloved blanket.

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?

Problem: I had a lot of back pain. Some days I'd wake up in pain, and it wouldn't go away for 1-4 days afterwards. Almost once per week? No rhyme or reason.

Solution: Replace the blanket I was using to sleep. My blanket was too small, I would curl up too tightly to stay under it. Now I still very occasionally get the same problem, I'm guessing because of habits, but it's more like once every three months.

A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble

Some personal experience. On the order of... ~100 hrs, I think?

I am not saying it's dishonest to say it has worthwhile benefits. My guess is that if someone hears about this enlightenment thing and thinks hmmm I wonder if I can...? and then tries insight meditation for 30x 10 minute sessions, the modal result is probably (a) some worthwhile benefits, and (b) believing that the scope of potential worthwhile benefits is far far larger than what 30x 10 minute sessions resulted in. Or, rephrased, that 30x 10 minute sessions just scratched the surface. Or, rephrased, that 30x 10 minute sessions was not "deep".

If you want to throw regular 12-person themed dinner parties every weekend, cooking every day for 10 minutes is a fantastic place to start learning the skills you need, and something like that is absolutely necessary for long-term success if you've never cooked, and will definitely have worthwhile benefits, and absolutely is going to miss covering tons and tons of necessary skills. If you told someone your goal and they said "it's actually easy, just cook for 10 minutes a day for 30 days", they would be telling you a false thing. Their advice, if followed, might be the best way to start, but that's not the same thing as true.

A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble

I mean, sure, it's a time honored practice to lie to people and tell them they can make a substantial fraction of the total progress ("deep") with very little effort, intending to get them to start when otherwise they simply wouldn't, so that they'll find out that it takes very little effort to make a lot of progress even though they'll also find out that the total is more vast than they ever imagined and their little amounts of effort didn't yield a substantial fraction of the total progress.


I still hate it.

A non-mystical explanation of insight meditation and the three characteristics of existence: introduction and preamble

Every recipe I look up on the internet says it takes just 5 minutes.

Ideal practice might go quite far with 30x 10 minute practices, enough to call it "deep". Likely practice if you don't spend any time with a mentor, reading/watching online, fixing your sit setup, etc etc etc? Sincerely doubt it would end up enough to call whatever happened "getting deep in meditation". Time actually spent if you have 30x 10 minute practices, given that you'll be doing the above and also transitioning between other things to practice and back, explaining to your partner that you need to not be disturbed during those 10 minutes and answering their questions about meditation, etc etc etc? Way more than 30x10 minutes.

Against strong bayesianism

A piece of a certain large corporation's spelling/grammar checker was at its heart Result <== Prior x Evidence. Due to legacy code, decaying institutional knowledge, etc., no one knew this. The code/math was strewn about many files. Folks had tweaked the code over the years, allowed parameters to vary, fit those parameters to data.

I read the code, realized that fundamentally it had to be “about” determining a prior, determining evidence, and computing a posterior, reconstructed the actual math being performed, and discovered that two exponents were different from each other, "best fit to the data", and I couldn't think of any good reason they should be different. Brain threw up all sorts of warning bells.

I examined how we trained on the data to determine the values we’d use for these exponents. Turns out, the process was completely unjustifiable, and only seemed to give better results because our test set was subtly part of the training set. Now that's something everyone understands immediately; you don't train on your test set. So we fixed our evaluation process, stopped allowing those particular parameters to float, and improved overall performance quite a bit.

Note, math. Because information and Bayes and correlation and such is unfortunately not simple, it's entirely possible that some type of data is better served by e^(a*ln(P(v|w))-b*ln(P(v|~w))) where a!=b!=1. I dunno. But if you see someone obviously only introducing a and b and then fitting them to data because :shrug: why not, that's when your red flags go up and you realize someone's put this thing together without paying attention. And in this case after fixing the evaluation we did end up leaving a==b != 1, which is just Naive Bayes, basically. a!=b was the really disconcerting bit.

Against strong bayesianism

Towards whatever-you-call-the-thing-I-got-from-reading-LW ism:

Thinking about all information systems as fundamentally performing the computation "Result <== Prior x Evidence" has been responsible for 5 of the 7 biggest successes in my career thus far. The other 2 had nothing to do with math/information/probability. All of the 5 were me noticing, where many better educated "more qualified" individuals did not, that some part of the actual information system's implementation was broken w.r.t. "Result <== Prior x Evidence" and figuring out how to phrase the brokenness in some other way ('cause inferential distance), resulting in institutional pressure to fix it.

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