CultureBy: 'How I Talk'
|AB 2007 3 further|
The REAL story of Christmas...
I love the holidays this year.
AND, as Dec 25th rolls to an end, let's take just a moment to make logical sense of the Christians' culturally prevailing story.
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Most amazing music this year...for me
FAR & AWAY THE BEST PORTABLE MUSIC PLAYER + INTEGRATED LEECHER AND SERENDIPITOUS EXPLORER: Sansa Connect + YMU (their integration is truly astounding)
PRETTIEST (HORRIFICALLY UNRELIABLE) PORTABLE MUSIC PLAYER THAT I WENT THROUGH 2 OF: the now-impossible-to-find-because-too-many-r
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Best movie of 2007!
Long-time screenwriter and first-time director Tony Gilroy weaves hyperrealistic social details (think Syriana) with stylized characterizations. It's engagingly fun, exploratory...feels continually novel.
And, we saw a very exciting promo poster for Harold & Kumar 2. The NPH rides a unicorn!!
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Famous atheist abandons "atheist" and similar predrawn boxes...
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From Judgment To Calculation: Gaining Certainty, Ignoring "Fallacies"
If you can't solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: Find it. — George Pólya
I'm playing two new (to me) problem-solving competitions that feel extremely different: heads-up no-limit hold em*, and Chess Tactics Server*. Their distinct feels make me meditate on how we build decision rules to navigate life's complex environs.
Solving chess problems, the calculations dominate. Tactical thinking feels systematic, step-by-step "100% valid." A board's terra firma absolutism rapidly expands as I look at a problem. Conclusions snap into place in cascades. Nothing feels tentative. Except!: 1) How my attention seeks out the most fertile regions of playspace to analyze. That part, my finding where to look first, second and third as my eyes take in a new board, feels like judgment, not at all calculation. General rules can describe how I prioritize the problem-scanning, but they don't fully specify the process. [The best I've crystallized, in order: King safety for each side? What's en prise? Sense who has space/play in which theaters — pawn structures & piece arrangements. Sense for trappable pieces, especially queens & rooks, or promotable pawns. Check for dangerous long diagonals and knight scope possibilities. By this time, I either see the answer or have the first candidate moves worth calculating. (If you enjoyed that parenthetical's chessiness, then do try CTS...it's the most critical few percent of each chess game that explains 80% of victories — without any of those boring-to-non-experts parts!) ] 2) How my attention realizes that it's "done," ready to commit to my answer. There's usually a satisfying "snap" of a best move, but it's not actually certain — it rests on my not having missed any important pregnant possibilities in the final boards I've envisioned. Chess computers like Deep Blue have to use glitteringly generalities to decide they've calculated "far enough" (that nothing really exciting is about to happen in the final positions of their trees), and I surely do too.
Heads-up NLHE, on the other hand, feels way more judgment than calculation. I sense myself just scanning the situation (focusing on many factors with no clear rules for resolving the tensions among them) & letting my intuitions fight it out for a best decision. There is often no satisfying "snap" of correctness, just a least awkward move to play as a timer ticks down.
Poker is a way less solved game than chess tactics, which may wholly explain why their best reasoning processes feel so different. The more exactly & formally we've discerned & distilled what's important for a class of decisionmaking, the more calculations will trump judgments. (Once the terra firma gets built, it just wins. Unless its foundations turn out to be wrong.) I've witnessed several arcs of discerning & distilling in the poker world: most single-table tournaments & NL ring games are beatable through pure calculation now. (Cutting-edge judgments can still increase your edge in any game, but calculation is often sufficient to create some positive edge.)
Mathematics is regarded as a demonstrative science. Finished mathematics presented in a finished form appears as purely demonstrative [calculative], consisting of proofs only. Yet mathematics in the making resembles any other human knowledge in the making. You have to guess a mathematical theorem before you prove it; you have to guess the idea of the proof before you carry through the details. You have to combine observations and follow analogies; you have to try and try again. If the learning of mathematics reflects to any degree the invention of mathematics, it must have a place for guessing, for plausible inference. In strict reasoning the principal thing is to distinguish a proof from a guess, a valid demonstration from an invalid attempt. In plausible reasoning the principal thing is to distinguish a guess from a guess, a more reasonable guess from a less reasonable guess. Certainly, let us learn proving, but let us also learn guessing. To be a good mathematician, or a good gambler, or good at anything, you must be a good guesser.
This makes me ponder how the classical logic courses can't apply to normal judgments, only to formalized calculations. Do you bet that teaching "logical fallacies" (as things to be avoided) actually does more to help shape our (children's) calculations or does more to confound & confuse our own fluid firsthand judgments about real-world situations?
For all its glory, "logic" is virtually useless in any real-world reasoning and argumentation task. Nobody actually expresses their ideas logically, except in some rare circumstances where the discussion is about some microworld domain for which logical reasoning is possible in principle. And logic is used even less in coming up with the ideas and positions.Robin Hanson:
The Fallacy FallacyBen Kovitz:
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2.5 months of "serious fun"
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Xmas lights & razor blades...and (behold the underlying truth) always The Creek to me...
I surprised San Diego's perfect weather (weather which takes my affections for granted at this point, really) & instead spent this week in the city where they set Garden State 2.* Glorious, A+++.
If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts;
you can never escape, you can only move south down the coast
With all the blue light reflections that color my mind when I sleep,
all the razor perceptions that cut just a little too deep
Also, never hesitate to take another look at Marta. Whatever match you catch, there are no wrong answers in a series this perfectly sculpted. Reuptakes just enrich. Thank you, Jasmine.
Mood: caffeinated, not tilty
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no quote marks, no + symbol
quirky search today:
a is a
I enjoyed puzzling at how each first page hit made it so high.
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The Holy Grail of perfect price discrimination...
As you know, colleges set their sticker prices by picking some absurdly high figure, like $46,732 per year, then discount like crazy, although they call their discounts "financial aid." But, they discount the way economic theory predicts a monopolist would - by perfect price discrimination, setting the profit-maximizing price for each potential customer. You learn in Econ 101 that in the real world, this theoretical result is seldom achieved because firms can't obtain all the detail necessary about each customer for setting the perfect price. If your econ professor has a rogue wit, he will then point out that there is a single exception: American colleges, which insist upon complete financial disclosure from applicants for "financial aid."
Our Endangered Right to Privacy is a favorite topic of newspaper editorials and long op-eds. Yet, I don't recall ever seeing anyone point out that the extraordinarily elaborate process of applying for "financial aid" from colleges tramples all over your privacy. This says a lot about the deference paid to the college cartel by the American upper middle class. (link)
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There's probably enough material to make more than one movie about my life, but, my God, look at me. Let's not get all, you know, optimistic. (I still get occasional Onion flashbacks.)
|AB 2007 1 further|
conversations with other women
best movie in ages
Devoured it tonight, and will likely watch again this week. (almost unprecedented)
The movie plays all around the very essence of memories/perception (the multiple drafts model of consciousness, esp.), and does that & much else subtly & novelly. Its story is always, constantly, the central poignant romance. Insanely efficient, not a frame wasted.
Even better than Eternal Sunshine. Comparable to Before Sunrise...it's actually one possible future several years past Before Sunset.
|AB 2007 7 further|
NN Taleb's still got it!
Intellectually, I must be getting a lot more selective. Today's annual Edge Question saw me skim the first 4+ long pages of responses in a mere few moments...disappointed by every single one.
Until...I hit Taleb. Delivers, as usual!
EDIT: Krause's is extremely inspiring.
|AB 2007 5 further|
I'm so skeptical of skeptic cheer
|AB 2006 5 further|
Alternate Reflections on the Sudden Appearance of Several Well-Kept, Surprisingly Agitated Baha Dogs
(my inner dialogue with a "song" fragment popping into my head from six years ago...ah, memory!)
How did these dogs get here? And, what are they all riled up about? (Is this in a sense normal? Would they usually act this way if let out at strange hours?)
Assume someone let them out. (Why would someone? Relatedly, who? On this party night, of all nights?)
Perhaps no one let the dogs out? (They escaped?)
Is someone sending us a message? Maybe we're being too loud. Are the dogs sending us a message? Oh, Timmy and the others! I don't think I've seen them in the hour since they went down to the river...
|AB 2006 10 further|
Semi-Annual McSweeney's Round-Up
my favorite lists debuting over last 8 months:
Tuesdays With Stabby
ANGL HAR PSTA
Keeping time to music by beating a staff
Peter Cetera's ex-girlfriend's hotter, younger sister
Protein shakes and feeling the burn
Axis and Ally
The Moon Is a Strict Dominatrix
Why was six afraid of seven?
Mainline the Magic Hippogriff
Oscar Picks for Best Actor, 2025.
|AB 2006 1 further|
Want a gift of 2 extra hours every day?!
I was an 8 hour sleeper (maybe 7.5). Now, for going on 6 weeks, I'm at ~5.6+-1. (This morning, 4.5...and I feel terrific.)
It might be high-energy transitionalness (surges of motive power for fresh personal opportunities)...but I doubt it because I've never experienced a sleep shift nearly this profound.
I bet it's the 5-HTP. It's a serotonin-inspirer that I just started taking as both a sleep-deepener and a mood-enhancer (tilt-blocker). 200mg/day, as one dose ~20 minutes before bed.
I expected to feel more rested...but nothing like this! I've never heard a report of suddenly sleeping much less & feeling as or more rested.
I'm writing this down mostly because it's potentially so hugely valuable...extremely worth sharing as an opportunity for you to self-experiment. 2 hrs/day is tremendous payoff. And, it doesn't feel like a drug; subjectively, even a little caffeine feels more significant (psychoactively, experientially) than this. Many years ago, I used drugstore "sleeping pills" for a short while; those felt many many times more like a freight train than this. Vivid dreams are the biggest felt effect.
If I keep feeling so good on so little sleep, should this just become my lifestyle choice? Do you think I'm doing any damage?
UPDATE: Unfortunately, stopped showing these effects -- after almost another month. I've now (Feb 4th) totally ceased the supplement (for now, nothing dramatic), and am happily experiencing many of the same positive effects from STOPPING that I did from STARTING. I'm now guessing that a lot of the positive mood, et cetera effects have to do with CHANGING body chemistry in this way rather than the direction of change...
|AB 2006 31 further|
Why Was/Is American Food Bad?
In interview, Tyler Cowen (USCF 2350 apparently, as I catch up on weeks of Marginal Revolution!) addresses our bad food (a topic that's long puzzled me):
The first was Prohibition. Mr. Cowen said fine restaurants earned a disproportionate share of profits from selling drinks. When America made it illegal to sell drinks, most of the top restaurants closed.("Me On Food")
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Where You Will Live the Longest
According to a Harvard study, the top seven counties for life expectancy are in Colorado. Is there something magic in the air there? TIME's correspondent from top-ranking Clear Creek County investigates:(link)
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"Time Enough For Counting"
Aaron Brown essentializes poker's game theory frontier in Willmott magazine (a journal of quantitative finance):
A minority of games have "vying" aspects, chances to adjust the stake with impact on the play of the game. Poker is unique as a pure vying game. The outcome is entirely luck. Skill cannot be exercised on the cards, only on the setting of the stake. [...](nice pdf)
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Our poker morality blogosphere
All-too-typically lashing out against freedom in a world it knows nothing about, the U.S. House yesterday passed an anti-online-gambling bill (exempting the state lotteries...and, um, horse racing, why not). ( ...Collapse )
Earlier this month, Slate printed the harrowing Lifetime movie of a respected 2+2er supporting his wife and family online. Inspired, a Libertarian economics professor at Harvard blogged the rather obvious Why I Hate Gambling. What's supercool, and the only reason I mention him, is that some REALLY interesting comments rolled in at his place. Here they are:
The best is when Aaron Brown, the author of my beloved The Poker Face of Wall Street(!), swoops in:
Gambling is an older and more powerful economic stimulus than money. Periods of economic innovation are invariably accompanied by explosions of gambling. The legal gambling industry in the United States today is roughly the size of the commercial banking industry. Toss in illegal gambling, gambling in financial markets and non-monetary gambling (e.g. risking one's life) and it would appear to be a significant economic force worthy of study.The next most interesting, from one The Superfluous Man:
The highest-paying straight job Cero had ever had was managing an independent video store, for which he made about $300 in take-home pay every week.Then, a little food for thought from one cpurick:
Winning players' actual consumption is only a fraction of the pot. They do other consumers a favor by tying up a bunch of worthless cash. The gambler's true skill is not risk management -- it's the ability to foresee what the other players are going to do. Using that skill in a game against similarly-skilled opponents is more honorable than using it to fleece investors and clients in the real world.Finally, to my amusement patrissimo gets quoted to drive home a judgment that winning poker is immoral:
What matters is that smart, talented people are wasting their time transferring wealth instead of creating it. Whether or not you are a libertarian or a utilitarian, that is waste. It's waste just like any other kind of rent-seeking.
|AB 2006 37 further|
2 superb books
This month I've gone on a huge reading jag. Like ten books. Two new ones deserve shortlisting for best of the decade(!):
1) No Two Alike. This is child development, personality psych on a grand scale. Judith Rich Harris sees herself as a scholarly detective, slowly building the best model ever for how we shape our social selves through adolescence. Her field was originally just psychology, but she's turned out to draw most heavily on behavioral genetics and Pinker-school evolpsych.
Her main hypothesis:
Personality gets created through the interplay of three mental systems: the relationship system, the socialization system, and the status system. The relationship system lets us attach to, and later relate to, specific individuals. The socialization system lets us figure out the norms of groups so we can fit in. The relationship system is with us at birth, and the socialization system develops around 2-3 yrs. The slowest system to emerge is the status system, which we use to set ourselves apart and excel within our group.Harris is fun to read for her wry humor and her careful clarity. Her thoughts are among the most precise in the social sciences, so you'll feel glad she puts them so straightforwardly.
I walked away freshly noticing how our personalities are omnipresent and layered. If you're likely to have children or you love science, you definitely should look at No Two Alike.
2) The Poker Face of Wall Street. This is perspectives on how pure risk-taking is often the efficient way to channel resources for productive use. Naked risk is always looked at as a cost, as something to be minimized. The author starts there like everyone else, but ends up believing that even most poker games are big-picture productive!! He is a high-level quant (at Morgan Stanley) and pro-level poker player who applies keen economic insights to the Mississippi River Valley 200 years ago, the Chicago Board of Trade in the 1970's, the Old West, Europe 200 years ago, and of course finance & poker today.
Teasers for how pure risk rocks: Capital formation for big projects...sometimes people refuse to sell things but they will gamble them, and sometimes they're correct to do so!...chips as an alternative to soft money banking...a way to let a random couple out of several successful miners/loggers retire early from the risky profession and make way for new blood...black market economy incubation.
His story of Black Monday sheds new light, and his story of Soros spanking the British govt is fun. The book is even better than I hoped, and I had high expectations because it was spontaneously sent to my front door by two separate friends (arriving the same day by two separate carriers!) in lieu of normal recommends.
Only Fooled by Randomness equally shaped my gambling markets world view.
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On The Ken Lay Obits
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INTPness vs ENTJness
Me on aggressive life action in the face of uncertainty:
The "most tenuous probabilistic associations" can & SHOULD produce ACTIONS that seem-to-imply absolute certainties...for the simple reason that actions are often binary (by the nature of the physical universe, there's often no way to interact safely with only the safer parts of someone's psyche, for one). Breaking up with a girlfriend doesn't mean that you hate her, or even that you're nearly certain you're making the right choice...just that you're at least 55% certain (say) that it's what you need to do!I like the whole thread.
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