mindspillage

mindspillage's Comments

How To Build A Community Full Of Lonely People

I am +1 on Step 1 being most important and most difficult here.

I would also say I am just okay at it, because connecting with other introverted people is difficult for me and I won't necessarily get far enough into conversation to find out about a lot of people's interests unless they have may in common with me or there's someone outgoing to carry the conversation. (There are many people more naturally inclined to be outgoing who could become amazing at connecting people if they realized that they have tons of this sort of knowledge that other people who are not like them don't obtain.)

But deliberately putting yourself in positions where you're going to learn a lot of things about people helps. Organizing groups, speaking about interesting topics, following everyone and their dog on social media, etc. And then being genuinely interested in them, enough that you remember things about them and they enjoy sharing things with you.

April 2017 Media Thread

"All This Time", by Jonathan Coulton. Video for the first song from his new future-themed album, placed in this category because the text-adventure video adds to the story. (Song name-checks Kurzweil and is about our future robot overlords.)

Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag

Some of this reminds me of a talk by Sumana Harihareswara, a friend of mine in the free software community, where she tries to exmaine which strange and offputting things are necessary and which are needlessly driving people away: Inessential Weirdnesses in Free Software

I think there are in fact a lot of parallels between issues in free software and the rationalist community--similarly devaluing Hufflepuff skills even when they're necessary to get the full value out of everyone's contributions, similarly having concerns about not watering down the core philosophical commitments while still being open to newcomers and people who are not yet committed to the entire culture.

(FWIW, I am a weakly-connected member of the Bay Area rationalist community--it's not what I think of as my primary community so I'm not particularly present.)

I Want To Live In A Baugruppe

This would probably have to be less expensive long-term and at least as convenient as my current living situation (apartment in the south bay) for my partner and I to be interested, but it is something I think we would consider. (I would be more interested in the social group aspect, and he would want low social obligation but would be interested in resource-sharing. I have not yet actually asked him about this post.) In particular, there are plenty of things that are reasonable and useful if shared in small groups (tools, recreation equipment, etc.) but a bit silly for personal use and difficult to share with strangers. I am not interested enough to do the heavy lifting of initial organizing.

(I do like the idea of having neighbors pre-selected to be inclined to be "neighborly"--I am happy to watch a child/water plants/play in your garage band/copyedit your report if you will do similar things when I need it. I know little enough about most of my current physical neighbors that we don't know what we can ask of each other.)

Open thread, Jan. 23 - Jan. 29, 2017

In general, don't optimize for uniqueness or quirkiness; you have limited space and your potential workplace is probably using the resume to screen for "does this person meet enough of the basic desired qualities that we should find out more about them with an interview". You can add a few small things if they really set you apart, but don't go out of your way to do it. A better opportunity to do this is in your cover letter.

The best reference for workplace norms and job-hunting advice that I know is Ask A Manager; you may want to browse her archives.

A quick note on weirdness points and Solstices [And also random other Solstice discussion]

The recent East Bay solstice was my first one. (I'm not usually enthusiastic about rituals or very large social events where I don't know many people--but I do enjoy singing with friendly people, so I came as part of the choir.)

I was pleasantly surprised by how not odd it was. It felt quite a lot like other ritual-type events I've gone to--church services, memorial events, formulaic holiday celebrations, etc.: much reinforcing of common themes for the group and reference to shared values and oft-repeated material. It was not as in-groupy as I expected--I could have imagined taking a friend who was not part of the community and not needing to explain much about it; it was mostly appealing to the broadest part of the community rather than deep insider references. (And here I realize I still count myself as in the community even though my recent involvement is mostly passive!)

I also appreciated the group activity of writing down meaningful encouragements and posting them on the wall: it gave a sense of who was in the room and the chance to show the best parts of themselves--and something easily visible to make conversation with strangers about during breaks. It did remind me of the sort of activity you might do at a company retreat, but the better kind! I wouldn't mind seeing that repeated.

Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014

I wouldn't make a restricted donation to a charity unless there was a cause I really cared about but I didn't think the charity behind it was well-run and I didn't know a better way of helping that cause.

I do not consider money to keep a good charity running as "wasted"--if anything I am deeply dubious of any charity which claims to have minimal to no administration costs, because it's either untrue (the resources to manage it effectively must come from somewhere, maybe from the founders' own personal resources) or a likely sign of bad management (they think that skimping on the funds needed to manage it effectively in the name of maximizing the basket of "program expenses" is a good organizational strategy). An organization that I think is well-run wants to spend on its cause as much as possible, but is mindful of needing to spend on itself also. If it cannot spend on itself--to hire good staff, to have good training, to use resources that cost money and save time, to plan its strategy and maintain regulatory compliance, to do whatever else an efficient organization needs to do--how can it possibly have the capacity to spend well on its programs? The money to sustain that charity is providing for its cause to be effectively addressed now and into the future.

"Unrestricted" says that you believe GiveWell is competent to make these allocations correctly between itself and its recommended charities. For GiveWell in particular, if you do not believe they can do this, why do you think they can evaluate other charities' effectiveness? Presumably you want to give to the other charities because GiveWell has told you they are worth it, because you think GiveWell is competent at assessing organizational effectiveness. (For other charities, I would have lower expectations for assessment ability--but still I expect that I want to give to one in particular because it is effective at spending for its cause. There are few causes where you do not have much choice of how to direct your money to affect it. An effective one will be competent at running itself--not perfect surely, but competent enough that I don't think I will do a better job at allocating its funds than it will by giving a restricted donation.)

Also, many people's gut feelings direct them to give restricted donations to avoid "wasting" their money; it's a feel-good option but one that does not help the charity stay around in the long term. People who are more considered should compensate for that by allowing the charity to use their funds unrestricted. I have no idea if GiveWell gets grants or not, but grant support from foundations is often restricted as well; it's much harder to get grants for general operating support. But I won't start that rant here.

(For background, I've been heavily involved in nonprofits for the past 10 years, as volunteer, staff, and board.)

Musings on the LSAT: "Reasoning Training" and Neuroplasticity

Also, logical reasoning of the type on the test hardly showed up at all in law school--most of the reasoning required was not very complicated, so most reasonably intelligent college graduates would already be able to do it.. (Some more complicated logic showed up in Conflicts of Laws, also.)

Musings on the LSAT: "Reasoning Training" and Neuroplasticity

1) I took it, but I didn't do much studying for it. (Basically, I signed up for it at nearly the very last moment after I saw someone mention that all it took to get into law school was a good LSAT--I had been pursuing a different career and had not previously thought of going to law school, but I had started doing legal-related work in a volunteer gig.) Maybe a week before the exam I went to the library and checked out a prep book. And the logic games section was already something I basically knew, so what I did spend time on was careful reading of the critical reading sections; I tend not to read carefully and miss instructions, and I wanted to learn the kinds of tricks they were likely to use to get me to do just that.

2 and 3) No; I used the logical reasoning skills I had already from studying math. (Also, from having taken every vaguely logic-related course at my undergrad.) Those were long-lasting. But I enjoyed math because many of those skills were already natural to me. I learned refinements and additional techniques and became better at it, but I was already inclined to thinking that way and enjoyed it.

As a lawyer now, one of my major strengths lies in analytical reasoning--I like to consider situations and take apart the possible situations that may arise, what happens if they're taken to their logical conclusions, where contradictions might arise from sets of terms, what logical inconsistencies exist in a proposal. (The biggest and most enjoyable project I've worked on has been license drafting.)

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