Open & Welcome Thread - September 2020

I feel happy pulling up kattis and doing some algorithm questions so there is definitely joy to be had chasing technical questions.  Ben doesn't seem to be disputing that but is offering two other things you can chase. 

Rather than competing for an A+ on a hard problem, I could try to solve an easy problem as quickly as possible

I don't know if this is different person to person but for me gamifying a problem can make me care more about something but it can't make me care about something I don't care about at all

So don’t look for hard problems—important ones are ultimately more fun!

This has been in my head for months because everyone* gives a variation of this advice and it feels like it's missing the hard part.  It started when I saw a clip on Reddit of Dr. K from Healthy Gamer saying something along the lines of "If you don't know what you want to do, get a piece of paper and write down everything wrong with the world.  In 5 minutes the paper will be almost full" and... What? No?  I mean, things are problems in that they make people's lives worse.  But I notice very very little actually changes how I feel.  So why would I expect anything I do to change how someone else feels if nothing they do can change how I feel?  There are only two axis that actually change how I feel about life: lonely VS belonging and bored VS engaged.  I don't really have a reason to expect other people are very different except that people in worse life situations also have an unsafe VS secure axis.  So the problems are "loneliness" and "listlessness".  Everyone acts like there are important problems everywhere.  You see people saying ideas for side projects are a dime a dozen but here I am where I actually have the funds to quit and make something I thought had value and just nothing I can think of that seems to have any value.


*Everyone except one friend on Paxil who assures me the solution to my problem is Paxil and one friend who is convinced LSD is the solution to all problems.  I remain unconvinced.

Open & Welcome Thread - September 2020

I'm so bored of my job, I need a programming job that has actual math/algorithms :/  I'm curious to hear about people here who have programming jobs that are more interesting.  In college I competed at a high level in ICPC, but I got into my head that there are so few programming jobs with actual advanced algorithms that if your name on topcoder isn't red you might as well forget about it.  I ended up just taking a boring job at a top tech company that pays well but does very little for society and is not intellectually stimulating at all.

On Suddenly Not Being Able to Work

Most relatable post of all time.  I had actually been doing really good this year minus a depressed period right at the start of covid; then now I'm relapsed since a month ago when stand up was cancelled removing the only structure in my day.  I've been calling mine "adult onset akrasia" because before I was 18 I just was constantly working and extremely high achieving and then I just... broke.  I have a lot of theories as to things that contribute in my case.  Since it got even worse when I moved from college to my final job there will be some things in the list that match up with getting my first job (jr. year HS) and some when I moved to my post-college job.

  • After you start working you no longer really take more than 1 week in a row off ever, but I think continuous time off is very important and spreading a month of time off throughout a year doesn't really do the same thing.  For me I would only ever start cool side projects on my third week off forward
  • Grades/medals in sports were discrete rewards to chase.  An X% higher bonus that means nothing other than enabling you to donate a bit more to charity in your life feels so intangible
  • The bar is just so much lower.  It feels like 5 hours a week of work would be enough to keep my job (dev at the chillest of the top tech companies)
  • The work isn't interesting.  I don't think improving our product really improves people's lives much.  There's no math/algorithms in it so it's not fun to code.  I miss ICPC :(  Though I'm probably not making a good case why anyone should DM me job offers here lol
  • Too continuous.  In school you eventually hit a point where you've finished everything.  At work if you finish early the start date for the next thing just moves up
  • Less factored goals.  The further you get in life the less you have a list of 1000 questions that take 5 minutes each and the more you have one 5000 minute question that just feels like like an overwhelming cloud of fog
  • Discovered Reddit, got a smartphone.  Distractions too close.  No longer resting in solitude bouncing around possible solutions to hard questions on a school bus.  Now I'm reading stuff I don't even care about any time I have 30 seconds without someone interacting with me
My Dating Plan ala Geoffrey Miller

I think there are a few reasons this post got a comment like Rafael's but your others didn't.

Any community that is about dating seems to attract the kind of people needed to turn it into /r/theredpill.  So I see the need to post places like here although they need to be more infrequent as not to turn this place sour in the same manner.  This is perhaps the inflection point where it has hit too many posts in too short a time.

There does seem to be more risk of violating "do no harm" here than your other posts.  You mention trying to seek out a positistion teaching GRE materials where you could flirt with someone you have some level of authority over and seeking out black women who often have insecurities over how they are viewed in regards to what is conventionally considered attractive in America.  Seeking out a power imbalance can put you in positions where you hurt someone.

Signaling does have a use.  Leaving the article the same, but adding 1-4 additional sentences with signaling stuff just showing you know pick up artist type stuff can hurt people and that isn't your intention would change the entire tone.  People here don't know you in person and we can't pick up on body language so sometimes you really do just need to type out the virtues you had hoped people would assume you had.  You did have more signaling of that in your first post.  The way you talked painted a picture of a honest confused guy whereas these more fleshed out plans paints a serial pick up artist even though I know that isn't your intention.


Personally, I did just want to call out that you should question the potential power balance of the GRE teaching situation and other than that don't have many comments.  There are some things I think aren't optimally effective, but I generally think this stuff needs to be discovered through experimentation and too much borrowed power is bad for both people in the relationship.  I left my advice on your first post vague when I could have given you a flowchart for a reason.  I stick to calling out potential areas you may regret rather than optimizing the actual plan.

Kelly Bet on Everything

I just don't feel anything.  I do have a certain logical appreciation that if I made a billion dollar company it would be impressive, I'd probably improve people's lives with it, and I could buy more stuff (mostly donate I guess?  I don't have much else I need...) but I don't feel anything.  Those are the words I feel flowing through my head but I don't feel any of the wordless feelings that make up my system 1.

Hell, I don't even feel anything thinking about the pleasure I'd get from getting a peach from my kitchen and there's a 95% chance the peach is good and ripe today.  I just do it because I know I'll have good feels once I actually have the peach.  Which is enough to make me do something low effort like get a peach but not start a company.

Edit: If anyone was curious, the peach was indeed delicious

Kelly Bet on Everything

I feel like one of the people you're writing this for.  25.  900k NW yet still working a boring programming job for one of the top tech companies that I don't care about.  Last time I seriously tried at Tinder I had 5 dates planned in the first weekend and 112 matches in the first week yet I'm spending my time with a casual partner I'm lukewarm about.  Every time I start a side project I go two days and then think "eh, I bet nobody will care about it" and stop.  Besides the job the only reason to stay where I am is I like the swing dancing scene here but that's closed with covid and I don't like much else about here.  In my hobbies I'll get bored right before I'm impressive. Leaving just before world finals in ICPC. Switching to be more casual about my lifting a few pounds short of a state record.

I don't need to start making Kelly Bets, I just need to start making bets period.  I don't know what it would take for me to start doing that.  I have a friend who makes big bets and I look up to him but I don't copy him.  I think a big part is I just don't really trust there to be payoff.  I don't feel like I'll be much happier.  I don't expect any of my side project ideas will be that useful to people.  Or maybe that's just an excuse.  I mostly feel blankness when I try and think of the tradeoffs so maybe there's some emotional block about my inability to take risks?  I'm not even sure where it would come from.  Most of my problems I have an obvious source of trauma to blame it on but not here.

I am Bad at Flirting; Realizing that by Noticing Confusion

Yep, I don't think you're completely wrong I just had those little bits to add. I support self-experimentation and liberal applications of the law of equal and opposite advice. Even towards my advice if you're feeling saucy.

I also recommend reading The Game not because it's actionable; but just because seeing the degenerate case when someone takes it too far and becomes an asshole instills some guard rails.

I don't think talking about this stuff should be disallowed. Romance is such an important part of life and the right advice leads people towards increased compassion while no advice leads to the red pill.

I am Bad at Flirting; Realizing that by Noticing Confusion

I think you're still missing two things

  1. We appreciate that cats are picky only after they pick us. The most charismatic people take slightly longer to smile when they see you, as if it was all the memories of you flooding into them and not just seeing a random person. We feel more heard when someone pauses slightly before responding. People don't want you to be unavailable. They want you to become available because of something special about them. That's incredibly validating. The solution isn't just to try and be less interested in people, it's to get genuinely curious about them and be interested in the unique parts of them you honestly think are special.

  2. Many things cause strong emotions. Chasing, being chased, trying to change someone, commiserating over all the things going wrong in your life, etc.. Strong emotions can cause emotional relationships. Being the unavailable prize is one strategy, but it isn't the only one. You should be able to come up with obvious examples of people who could be as available as they want and get suitors and people who'd still be unseen no mater how aloof. Be aware that any strategy will filter who is interested in you and that being successful in making a relationship happen is only really a success if you both enjoy it.

Thomas Kwa's Bounty List

Curious, what do you consider your bottlenecks?

"Mild Hallucination" Test

I have almost no experience with drugs. Used weed twice, have had maybe two dozen drinks in my life mostly separated by at least 3 months, and only had a month or so period in my life where I drank coffee.

I developed visual snow after spending a lot of time working with computers. If I can stay away from screens for a few days it goes away. I've been told by a doctor that it's just eye fatigue leading to a poor ability to see contrast so solid colors look snowy with contrast that isn't actually there. I don't know enough about eyes to know for sure if that's a plausible statement.

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