I still laugh every time I look at my username


mike_hawke's Shortform

What science fiction should I read? Any subgenre.

I ask because I'm rereading HPMOR and I just reread Eliezer's posts about memetic collapse and local validity. I kinda feel like I'm missing out, but I don't know where to look beyond googling "classic sci fi" or "sci fi cult hits". I like HPJEV as a protagonist and would like to see more of that sort. I'm probably going to reread Ender's Game next in order to scratch the itch a bit.

Here are my idiosyncratic preferences, in case it helps:
My top 5 stories probably include The Martian, Rendezvous with Rama, and Snow Crash. Disappointingly, I haven't found an Asimov story that I've liked very much, and I couldn't even finish Foundation. I thought Neuromancer was okay on net. Ringworld was often tedious but I still remember the sense of awe that some parts gave me and I loved the way the ending came together. I'm planning on reading Dune, but I'm not sure about audiobook vs ebook vs both and I'm concerned about it being dry and tedious. I'm partway through Permutation City, which I find really well-written but kinda depressing. I thought Xenocide was awesome and I pretty much hated Speaker for the Dead.

mike_hawke's Shortform

As a result the book lacks an intellectual vision. It’s just highly competent in a slick, oversocialized way where little true personality comes out. If the book were a person it’d be like many of the people I met at the elite business school where I briefly studied: smooth, well-oiled bundles of overly appropriate behaviors seemingly dictated by the situation rather than emerging from a strong underlying personality.

(from this Everything Studies post)

I want there to be at least 10 more John Nersts out there. Writing, influencing, telling it like it is. John Nerst is a lighthouse of sincere thought in an ocean of strategic speech and word games.

A dozen habits that work for me

Nah, I haven't been able to settle on Breathe Right™ vs CVS generics.

A dozen habits that work for me

You're welcome :] My laundry list is:

  • pajamas
  • sweater
  • bedding
  • robe
  • the clothes on my body right now
  • towel
  • gym bag
  • handkerchief
  • balaclavas
  • gloves

I keep them in my phone or sticky noted to the wall.

A dozen habits that work for me

Yeah, they seem to improve my sleep quality by making it a little easier to breathe.

mike_hawke's Shortform

I have a strong anti-Twitter attitude. I will now charge rent from this attitude in the form of anticipated experiences.

My attitude:

Twitter is psychotoxic. That is to say, it has a negative influence on one’s mood, habits, personality, reasoning ability, and so on. Using twitter causes people to practice mental behaviors that are corrosive to clear thinking and agency both immediately and longer-term. The easy availability of bite-sized content is eroding people's ability to read longer-form content like blog sequences or books. Twitter deserves the same condemnation that the 24h news cycle gets and much more. I believe that if far fewer people used Twitter, my life would be noticeably better.

I feel my attention being tugged at by the Twitterverse even when I have been away from it for a long time (weeks or longer). This is in part a sensible worry--Twitter does have noticeable effects on the world, and I wish I could do something.

This is a hackneyed pattern, but: Twitter is the 21st century’s tobacco. It is an addictive, next-gen intoxicant.

On a podcast, I heard some guy recommend that you “don’t let Twitter be the background music of your life. When you’re hanging out with your friend, don’t browse twitter while they’re in the bathroom.” I didn’t realize people did that. I think I need to start asking my friends if they are doing this when we hang out, and trying to get them to stop.

The full effects of twitter on individuals and groups is still an open question, slowly being answered by massive, natural experiments.


In a heathy* future, people will consider the comparison between tobacco and twitter to be basically correct, if somewhat hasty and superficial. We will look back on the present state of affairs with pity, embarrassment, and a bit of queasiness.

The Internet Research Agency was just the beginning and we will hear of ever more numerous and galling examples of social media used to twist people’s minds. In less than 20 years, the dev race between offensive psyops and defensive countermeasures will be well-known, not niche knowledge.

Paul Cristiano has imagined a future in which information from the internet is scrutinized by an AI for harmful/manipulative information before being shown to a user. I strongly anticipate that considerations of this kind will be much more mainstream within the next 20 years. If we are not able to implement direct solutions with AI, I expect that serious, tech-savvy people will cobble together other tools and systems for a partial solution.

Perhaps in the near future, heavy twitter usage will be generally seen as a yellow or orange flag. Consider the thoughts you have when you notice that someone has at least 2 drinks every night, or can’t go a day without a liter of soda, or spends all their time online and never socializes in person (yeah, excluding pandemic conditions, smartass).

“Digital Minimalism” and “attention rebellion” will catch on (the situation is currently so dire that i would be pretty surprised if they don’t) and tech companies will react by trying to build things that people will pay to integrate into their attention-prioritizing lifestyle.

In summary: Twitter is awful and I will be at least moderately surprised if in 15 years it is normal for smart people to endorse having used it today.

*I hate this word. I’m using it here only out of mental sloth and weakness.

mike_hawke's Shortform

News headlines have measurable, harmful effects on people so I never want them to be shown to me without my explicit consent. But YouTube does not have an option to permanently disable the Breaking News section.

The only solutions to this I know of are:

  1. Contort my usage by never opening the main page of YouTube
  2. Use uBlock with a custom filter to get rid of the news section.
  3. Stop using YouTube

I consider this to be psychotoxic design, plain and simple. The next time I need an example of tech companies doing something bad, I will have to reach no further than this.

mike_hawke's Shortform

The Lizardman Constant shows up in a poll from Tom Scott.

I wonder if the Lizardman Constant is actually constant. I could imagine it changing over time, hypothetically for the same reason that I hear more about Flat Earth theory today than I did 5 years ago. Maybe there ought to be a whole family of parameters--a family which includes unbelievably wacky and fringe but pre-existing theories like Lizardmen, as well as plausible-sounding but freshly fabricated ones like the North Dakota Crash. And it would be nice if they were given labels that are sticky while also remaining relevant/constant over time. Maybe things like the Yes Bot constant, the Calvin Contingent, and so on.

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