philh's Comments

How do you survive in the humanities?

Unsurprisingly, questioning here is the path to you being burnt at the stake. Questioning is heresy.

This is about self preservation. You want a diploma, and you’re not going to get it unless you’re willing to lie about your beliefs and say the things you’re supposed to say.

I don't think OP described anything that looks like this. I don't know that it's not happening, and I don't know that it won't (though if it hasn't started after two years, I don't know why it would start now). But right now this claim seems unjustified to me.

How do you survive in the humanities?

Notice that your teachers are actually rational, if you define rationality as success in life. Believing or at least declaring to believe something you disagree with did not hinder their ability to get the job they want and teach the classes they want.

I note that lottery winners are rational under this definition, and also that unless you have more information than is in the post, you don't actually know what OP's teachers wanted out of life.

Editor Mini-Guide

I'm reasonably confident the word "bignote" doesn't matter here (and nor does "longnote"), it's just the word chosen in that example. I just tested with "note" and it worked fine.

I do have some confusion here. It looks to me like the bignote and longnote examples are the same apart from that word. So if you tried one and it didn't work, then tried the other and it did, I don't know what else you would have changed. Do you happen to remember?

Jan Bloch's Impossible War

The Franco-Prussian war was the first prototype of a modern war, one featuring the use of railroads, artillery, and all the new technology of creation and destruction that had come into existence since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815

Not particularly important, but doesn't the American civil war from a few years earlier also fit this description?

(Even if it does, Bloch may have been less familiar with it.)

The case for lifelogging as life extension

Death hack: instead of logging accurate information, log information that paints you in a good light by your eyes. With luck, the future society revives a version of you who is slightly more aligned with your values than you are.

What Money Cannot Buy

citation farms already exist, so we know roughly how many people are willing to do stuff like that.

To be precise, we have a lower bound.

[Link] Ignorance, a skilled practice

Somewhat duplicating noggin-scratcher's comment.

HHHT does take less time to show up than HHHH in repeated simulations, and is more commonly encountered in small samples.

This is true in specific technical ways and false in specific technical ways. It's far from obvious to me that the true ways are more important than the false ways. Here are some ways we can cash this out, along with what I think are the results:

  • Continue flipping until we generate either sequence, then stop. Which did we most likely encounter? Equally likely.
  • Continue flipping until we generate a specific sequence. What's the expected stopping time? Lower for HHHT.
  • Generate a sample of size > 5. How many of each sequence does it have? More HHHH.
  • Generate a sample of size > 5. How likely is each sequence to show up at least once? HHHT is more likely. This is the bet.

Even accepting the claim as basically true, it's because the end overlaps the beginning, not because of regularity. This is a type of regularity, I admit, but I don't believe it's well correlated with what people will perceive as statistical regularity. I think you get the same results with HTH versus HTT (replacing HHHH and HHHT respectively).

Looking for books about software engineering as a field

I have an intuition here that learning to code might be almost necessary for what you want. It's only an intuition, and it's not very strong. You may feel like your current understanding is higher than this intuition would predict, and I wouldn't contradict you. But it seemed worth sharing.

My feeling is that trying to understand these things without knowing how to code, would be like trying to understand the classification of finite simple groups without having sat down to play with some examples of groups. One could probably get an intellectual understanding of a group without playing with them, but playing with them will give an intuitive understanding that will be super helpful for understanding a "simple group" on an intellectual level, let alone an intuitive one. And so on.

(The rough hierarchy here, as I see it: a "group" is a collection of objects closed under a binary operation satisfying certain properties (examples include integers with addition, real numbers with multiplication, states of a rubix cube with side-twists). A "finite group" is probably easy enough, a "simple group" is one with no "normal subgroups" except the ones considered trivial. To classify these groups requires us to understand "isomorphisms" between groups: the goal is to take a relatively small collection of groups, and say "any finite simple group will be isomorphic to some group in this collection".)

And so my worry is that the foundation you need will need to be intuitive, and not just intellectual; and the way to get an intuitive understanding would be to work with code. (Which is also more than just writing it. Like half the things you name are related to the problem of "running code on a computer different than the one it was written on".) Not necessarily to a high skill level, but to some extent.

Unfortunately, if this is true, it's not likely an easy road. I think I'd been programming for some time before I felt like I understood what an API was. (Not just programming, but actually using APIs.)

Healing vs. exercise analogies for emotional work

And if someone said that they had done yoga for flexibility a while, then taken up running for the cardio, injured themselves and done physiotherapy for a while, and then started doing weightlifting for the sake of muscle, and each of those had been exactly the right thing to do, then that wouldn’t be very suspicious either.

To clarify, at the end, are they still doing yoga and/or running and/or physiotherapy?

If so, then this doesn't seem like a great analogy, since you mention "jumping from thing to thing".

But if not, this seems like an overstatement. (Which, to be clear, I consider just a minor criticism that doesn't reflect badly on the post as a whole.)

If we mentally change "exactly the right thing to do" with "a perfectly sensible thing to do" then I have no objection.

But if we take "exactly the right thing to do" at face value, then this does seem suspicious to me. Not out of the question, but implausible. I'd have questions like:

  • Presumably you aren't going to maintain your levels of flexibility or cardio, now that you've stopped those exercises. Why were those historically the right things to exercise, but now the right thing to exercise is muscle? Are you sure there's no wasted motion here?

  • Were you running with poor form, or did you just get unlucky? Or is running just something where you have a decently high chance of injury no matter how well you do it?

  • Why did you stop running after your injury, instead of going back to it for a time? Like, is it just a coincidence that the right time to switch to muscle was after your injury, or is there some causal relationship here? (An obvious possibility is that you may not have healed fully. If so, is that the expected outcome of running injuries; and if that's the case, are you really sure you should have been running?)

These questions could potentially have good answers. But by default, yeah, I'd expect that "exactly the right thing to do" is an overstatement.

Coordination as a Scarce Resource

More generally, would it be reasonable to say that legibility relaxes coordination constantraints? That feels like it helps crystallise something I've been mulling over.

If you have a map of a city, you don't need to find someone who knows the city to navigate it. If you have accurate birth and death records for a country, you don't need to talk to local leaders to find out things like "how many people are avoiding taxes" or "how many people are dying of malaria". If you know exactly what quality of wood a forest is going to produce, you don't need to talk to all of the forest managers to find out which one is most suitable as a supplier.

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