The Apprentice Thread

[MENTOR kind of]

Non-standard perhaps, but I think good to toss into this pool. The Monastic Academy takes on two-month apprentices (with a free bed and free vegan food). You study meditation, the Buddhadharma, fundraising, grounds work, cooking, cleaning, how to give and receive feedback, and how to be a good community member (we all live and work together). Ideal if you are bought into social collapse / climate collapse scenarios being one of the major challenges the planet faces and at least somewhat bought into the idea that the major leverage point is the mind itself (on every scale). 

Location: Lowell, VT

More info: https://www.monasticacademy.com/apprentice/ 

DM me if you want to ask me stuff. 

Active Curiosity vs Open Curiosity

Thanks for doing this investigation! I love your thoroughness and precision. 

Based on my personal ontology of this, "something sort of similar that isn't curiosity at all" doesn't register as a relevant class of object to me. It sounds like it's relevant to you, however. Perhaps there's something you want to preserve with the term "curiosity." That's interesting, and I find myself curious about it (more open than active, atm). 

As an aside, I get the vague sense that you're doing something somewhat confusing (to me) with regards to building maps of phenomenology. Especially when I read the set of questions about joint-carving. This seems like a longer conversation to be had, if you wanted to have it one day.

Some of the confusions I have can be summed up in these inquiries: 
"If 'open curiosity' ends up being fairly distinct and unitary, does that make it more joint-carving? ...Why?" 
"Does 'more joint-carving' basically stand in for 'more real' to you? Or something?" 

Anyway this is a longer conversation, I think, and best to carry out not-via-text. But hope reading this was useful or insightful for you. 

Motive Ambiguity

Oh, hm, I think I am noticing something:

I don't like what the post is trying to reify because I think it predicts reality less well than whatever I am using to predict reality 


Maybe it predicts reality "okay" but I feel it adds an unnecessary layer of being bitter / cynical / paranoid when this is not particularly healthy or useful. 

The latter thing feels like a serious cost to me. 

I'm not trying to promote naive optimism either. 

But the world this post paints feels "dark" in a way that seems less accurate than available alternatives. 

And also seems a bit more likely to lead to adversarial dynamics / Game A / finite games / giving up on oneself and others / less love / less faith / less goodwill / less trying. That is a serious cost to me. 

I'm guessing that the counterpoint is... NOT seeing the world this way will lead to getting taken advantage of, good guys losing, needless loss, value degradation, etc. ? 

Motive Ambiguity

I tried to directly respond to the points in this post. But the framing of this post is so off-kilter from mine that it's confusing to try to "meet" your frame while maintaining my own.

I'm just going to have to give my own take, and let people be confused how the two integrate. 


I'm the middle manager with the widget factory. I imagine ~two possible scenarios:

  • My higher-ups actually would want me to make the saner choice, but I am personally very confused, or there's been a lot of miscommunication / lack of clarity. Maybe my ability to read their signals of what they'd want is very wrong, or they just don't give much feedback at all. (I've seen this happen lots. This seems totally plausible to me.) In MY world, the higher-ups need me to demonstrate loyalty by showing an ability to make the worse decision. I am desperate for their approval and am confused about how to get it. In REALITY, the game of dishing out approval is not something the company optimizes for, and so the higher-ups haven't a clue about my internal drama. If they could read my mind, they'd pity me. They assume that I'm just learning the ropes, and they're willing to eat the cost of some middle manager making mistakes, and they don't have time to fix all the errors. They let it go without comment (perhaps a sign of the problem). I am twiddling my fingers in anxiety, hoping they like me / don't fire me.
  • My higher-ups will in fact promote me for making the insane choice, and my read about that is totally correct. In this world, lots of systems and people are corrupt. Bribery, cheating, scams, embezzling, etc. are prevalent. There isn't much rhyme or reason to choice-making because people can NOT be expected to be rewarded for doing good work; the only reward is having the right connections. If you don't have the right connections, you're probably fucked. Think the USSR under Stalin. In this world, basically everyone is insane. They've let integrity go out the window. "This is why we can't have nice things." Clean effort does not result in reward. People resort to other means.

I honestly don't see the example making any sense outside of something similar to the above scenarios, unless you remove information from the system (e.g. I don't know that the water-poisoning factory costs the SAME as the not-water-poisoning factory) or there's info left out ("no additional cost" isn't taking into account things like legibility or robustness or something). 


I'm the spouse planning dinner. I can imagine the following scenarios, which carry some element of insanity:

  • I have some core belief that Love = Suffering or Love = Sacrifice. ("Core belief" is a technical term here.) This leads me to doing some insane things like always doing the thing I don't want to do, whenever I get a sense my partner wants that something, with the expectation that this is "how love works" or something. My partner does not want me to do this, but I'm kind of stuck / can't get distance from the pattern.
  • My partner is stuck in a zero-sum mentality about romantic relationships. They get upset when I don't make grand gestures or display active self-sacrifice. They feel insecure in the relationship. When I seem happy at their "expense", they assume I don't love them / care about them. I feel obligated to pick places they like even when I don't like them, and I am carrying some slight resentment about it. It doesn't feel worth rocking the boat. In fact, they do seem more relaxed when I seem "less openly excited or happy"—because to them, this means I need them more, and they feel less likely to be abandoned or rejected. (In this case, let's say that this is the wrong assumption in this particular relationship, but hasn't been wrong in past relationships, and they are dealing with trauma in the area.)
  • Or, as is all too common, both me and my partner are carrying some kind of trauma-based insanity about relationships. We're codependent and playing out a weird stereotypical trope of sacrificing our own preferences for the sake of the other. We don't see a problem actually, with this, if you asked us, but we're both suffering more than otherwise.

I can imagine the following scenarios, which are not insane:

  • I enjoy giving my spouse the gift of taking them to their beloved restaurant, regardless of my own preferences. I see this as practicing generosity. I put my preference aside, but this leaves no negative residue. I'm genuinely happy to take them to a restaurant they love. In our relationship, we don't prioritize "having good experiences" as much as we do giving / building / quality attention / etc.
  • I am practicing relinquishing my preferences because I want to be able to enjoy myself regardless of particular external circumstances. I believe it's good to take each moment as it is and appreciate the present, over necessarily trying to make myself experience particular things. Giving my spouse a nice dinner is an excellent bonus.
  • If we always went to the restaurant we both love, we'd get less variety of restaurant choices for our romantic dinners. So sometimes I pick the restaurant they love, and sometimes they pick the restaurant I love, and sometimes we pick the restaurant we both love. Overall, this is value-positive in the long term.


These examples are outputs from my model of how reality works, from what I can tell. 

Rest Days vs Recovery Days

aww i like this :) 

+1 for Slug Days instead of Recovery Days

Rest Days vs Recovery Days

If this gets published in some way, it might be worth changing the name of these concepts. I think I did a bad job in naming them. 

Some suggestions for "Recovery Days" = Zombie Days, Junk Days, Tired Days

I think "Rest Days" is a good name for this concept, and I'd prefer keeping it. 

Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread

This article attempts to answer this: https://medium.com/@adamgries/how-to-decide-when-to-take-precautionary-action-about-coronavirus-covid-19-and-what-to-do-an-78d8bf231ebb

Quoting from it:

The United States: how COVID-19 could play out
The US currently has 15 confirmed COVID-19 infections but what we want to know is the number of infected at large.
Let’s try to estimate this number.
Around 3M Chinese visit the US annually not counting other foreigners or American citizens who travel to China and return.
Before US Borders were closed to China travelers the virus was already prevalent for at least ~14 days during which infected people traveled freely.
That implies at least 115,068 visitors who had recently been to China entered the US from Jan 9th — Jan 23rd. To guess how many may have been infected I noted that China’s initial quarantine area encompasses 60M people which is 1/23rd of China’s population.
Therefore ~5,000 suspected persons arrived in the US from affected areas. Assuming the infection rate was around 0.5%, we can guess there were around 25 infected people at large by January 23rd. But which 25 of the 5,000??
Note: some infected may continue to come in from China but only if they are US permanent residents or citizens (and they are forcibly quarantined in military installations). The US does not currently limit arrivals from Thailand or Singapore however, as opposed to Israel, which was the first to announce such limits today.
In an assertive scenario the US government would track down all 5,000 suspected infections above as well as anybody they interacted with and put them all in quarantine.
I have heard no reports in that vein and believe it’s likely not the case. On the other hand, there have been reports of dangerous mistakes, such as incorrectly removing an infected person from a hospital in San Diego.
Even worse, we can’t tell how many people are now infected but don’t have a reason to suspect they have it. They may have been around an asymptomatic infected person who came from Wuhan or touched a contaminated surface.
If in fact COVID-19’s “asymptomatic R0” is over 1, a single infected person would start an epidemic cascade. I think it is highly probably this is happening now but that we are in the early stages of the exponential curve and therefore the problem is invisible.
Furthermore, because most cases are mild, infected persons may be misdiagnosed or not seek treatment. The virus may go through 5–10 growth cycles before we realize a city outbreak is underway.
Once it’s clear there is an outbreak in say Columbus, OH, it’s hard to say how many people the local infected persons have already spread the disease to and it will be hard to find them all.
That’s one reason why the CDC instructed medical professionals across the nation to report cases of flu-like symptoms to monitoring centers and also released a diagnostic test for COVID-19 that it’s distributing to 115 labs. However, the test was faulty and for now samples are still going to Atlanta, which means results will be delayed.
Sadly, a faster acting, reliable test that could be delivered to thousands of labs will take months to develop.
My take is that if the number of total infected (not merely confirmed infected) in a city exceeds a few hundred, that city is in trouble.
With 25–100 infected people at large who may be anywhere in the US we should be very concerned.
When I would take action
If my city had more than 15 confirmed cases, I would take 2nd measures as noted below
If my city had more than 20 confirmed cases, which grew to 30 cases or more in less than 10 days, I would take 3rd measures as noted below
Precautions: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Measures
I’m currently based in San Francisco, a mere few blocks from UCSF, where two confirmed COVID-19 patients, diagnosed in Santa Clara, were transferred for treatment.
1st Measures (I’ve already taken these)
Buy six weeks worth of food in case self-quarantine is necessary
Cease attending local group events such as gyms
Cease using public transportation which I would otherwise do every other day. Instead I use my car or Lyft/Uber
Purchase $350 worth of masks for self and wife. Haven’t found a good solution for daughter
Avoid air travel to East Asia
Minimize air travel and when traveling, carry Lysol wipes to disinfect seating area, avoid using the toilet, wear a mask for the duration of travel. Avoid eating. Drink only from my own bottle.
2nd Measures
Expand food stocks to 4 months
Cease all air travel
Cease eating out at restaurants
3rd Measures
Self-quarantine for 2 weeks to observe whether things are static or worsen. If infected numbers are static, revert to 2nd Measures, otherwise keep self-quarantine.
Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help?

Some directions I would go with this question myself:

  • How does shared cultural narrative affect human behavior, and is it more reliable than money?
  • Can money buy commitment? Personal development? Deep confusion and questioning about one's ethical choices?
  • What's the connection between money and relationship-building? (Especially with regards to fundraising.)
  • Can money buy coordination? How much coordination would it be able to buy? How reliable would it be?
  • What is a thing that is NOT money that can result in coordination, better shared narratives, personal development, a commitment to ethics, etc.?
Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help?

I just want to say this is the best question I've seen asked online in a while.

I'm sorry this comment doesn't have anything much to add other than:

Wow this question is amazing, and I wish more people would ask it, and I'm better for having read it. So thank you for asking it.


My personal understanding of rationality is that Rationality(tm) was always open to being discarded along the way to attaining the 12th virtue.

If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it.

To be clear, I still highly value truth-seeking, model-building, winning, etc. I just don't know what 'rationality' is actually trying to refer to these days. Maybe it feels small and incomplete to me, given my current perspectives.

Load More