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Open Thread: March 2010

That's pretty much where I am; traditional school, up through college and grad school. I think my poor habits would have been intensified, however, if I had been unschooled.

The fallacy of work-life compartmentalization

My apologies. I took "Would you be happier if you were actually working 40 hours a week?" to be sarcasm, since it seemed like Rain had already answered the question. I hope I didn't offend too greatly.

The fallacy of work-life compartmentalization

What do you do? Having something to do, and having something asked of one, is far more fulfilling than being asked to do nothing. Eliezer's example of the exhausted peasant comes to mind. Who would actually enjoy doing nothing all day?

The fallacy of work-life compartmentalization

On another note, I don't think anyone has ever shut down their computer in the hopes that it would help them find a file.

Not that this matters, but one of my father's friends frequently asks me for computer help. He was rebooting because he was "missing emails". He was also opening the wrong program (he uses webmail in a browser, but was opening outlook express) in order to find them. For some reason, he thought that "they" had changed the interface on him, and didn't realize he was clicking on the wrong icon.

The fallacy of work-life compartmentalization

One of my coworkers (like you, at a government job involving software) had occasionally said "you can only read Dinosaur Comics so many times before you have to find an open-source project to start contributing to".

We created a lot of our own work; we were given a lot of leeway to find and fix problems ourselves, even if the problems hadn't actually appeared yet. We were encouraged to find research areas to work on, and use our time to do that as long as it didn't detract from our other duties, which probably only consumed 4-10 hours a week. So, we had license to work as diligently as we wanted, and for the most part on nearly anything we wanted. However, we generally found that most days, we weren't able to be productive for more than 4-6 hours, and ended up spending a lot of time reading webcomics, writing toy programs, and drinking tea in the break room.

I think for most people, 30 hours of high-quality creative work a week is about their limit. I'm sure some people are exceptions, but some of the most productive programmers I know (from FOSS projects I worked on to government jobs I held and even a stint at Microsoft) spend about half their "day" goofing off.

Superstimuli, setpoints, and obesity

Is your composure of these comments an example of a human manufacturing products?

I still think using sunlight through an organic / metabolic pathway is more efficient form of manufacturing rational discourse than using solar cells and electricity. Unless, of course, you are not human, which might explain your apparent disregard for human utility, but introduces the question of why you are bothering to converse with one.

Superstimuli, setpoints, and obesity

Using sugar for human consumption is, in a sense, quite wasteful.

I claim, that given sugar, using it for human consumption is one of the least wasteful things to do with it.

This is still inefficient compared to other means of using the same sunlight.

In the future, if there is an option between powering organic people with sugarcane-produced sugar and powering cybernetic people with solar cells, and we can choose to be either organic or cybernetic, then your argument will be valid—assuming there are no other options, which is silly. For right now, people need food. Converting sunlight into other forms of energy in other ways is fine and good, but personally, I would also like to keep growing food for me and my brethren.

though again this is only sugar-to-mechanical efficiency.

This is a big caveat. A typical person burns much more energy maintaining homeostasis than they do in moving. Following that, brain activity is the second-largest energy sink. While athletes can quadruple their caloric requirements (indicating that mechanical energy can become the largest drain on energy), I think calculating energy conversion with your example is suspect.

Superstimuli, setpoints, and obesity

I'm not sure what this has to do with the thread, although it is interesting. Can you back up your conclusions with some data? Assuming sucrose is metabolized in the Kegg pathway, the energy generated is easily calculable. I haven't found good numbers on combustion engine efficiency for running on sucrose (how does one design such an engine?); my understanding was that even petrol engines have very low efficiencies, but I could be wrong about that.

Superstimuli, setpoints, and obesity

(or at least not disputing) the general argument

Also, what I was really thinking was you provided an example of a company that makes beans with sugar. Ostensibly, the only reason to add sugar to canned beans is to make them taste better—though that obviously backfired for at least one of their customers.

Superstimuli, setpoints, and obesity

Thanks, that answers my question, and even provides an anecdote supporting (or at least not disputing) the general argument.

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