Plodding through it

Recent posts have been about trying to build a new narrative and set of guidelines around how I approach tasks and my life in general.

It hasn’t been helping as much as I made it sound. It’s basically the end of the weekend and I didn’t do anything on an important project I want to be working on.

It’s programming. My day job is also programming, and recently it’s been somewhat frustrating – not in the usual sense of work stress, but somehow just that my tolerance is less than usual for the various nuisances associated with dealing with code. At the end of the day I’ve had enough and don’t want more of that in the evening. At weekends I need to recharge.

That seems the simplest explanation, and how it manifests is just that I don’t want to do the thing. What to do in cases like this?

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What self respect may not be the same as

Malcolm Ocean’s Taking Myself Seriously seemed like it might be important to me.

My insight now, of course, is that what I imagined Malcolm was talking about with “taking himself seriously” corresponds exactly to the notion that I already had of “self respect”. While I haven’t explained exactly what that means to me yet, I’m not at the point where I need someone else to explain it either.

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The darnedest thing

A rationalist is usually curious. In Toronto, big areas of the city have trees planted along all the streets, and it seems reasonable to wonder why that is. Don’t get me wrong, I like them – but a modern city is subject to a lot of competing optimization processes, and it’s reasonable to ask how trees got a look-in.

(This phenomenon is not the darnedest thing mentioned in the title. How I came across the possible answer to it was).

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Akrasia is a Riddle

When your identity changes (in a way that feels positive) it’s a really interesting feeling.

It feels like wearing clothes or a haircut that you normally wouldn’t and being like “I’m going to be different today”, but in a way that’s more genuine because it’s not going to just change back. It’s a surprisingly subtle feeling of satisfaction given how rare it is.

I’ve had that kind of feeling associated with becoming an EA, with starting my first (and only) (and long-term) relationship, and a whole bunch during my psychosis (I disown a lot of what happened but the feelings at the time felt very, very genuine. I think believing in God came the closest to the feeling that I’m talking about). And I felt it just recently.

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stalling behaviour from mr hyde


Having set out to get that stupid theorem 4.1.1 finally covered and to read through the next part of the logical induction paper… it didn’t happen.

I was on Facebook, I made some memes but not in a high productivity way, there was a lot of just scrolling up and down involved. Now it might seem like covering every episode of procrastination is going to get dull and silly, but the fact remains… each one is a paradox.

It’s also possible that each can be explained by some kind of model. I’m not really sure but it’s worth taking a peek while it was still fresh in my mind to see what might have happened.

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yeah sure, a monkey

Wait But Why introduces the concept of being a multi-agent system in a nice accessible way. You can see it being introduced in the second panel.

I’ll gloss over one of the important oversimplifications that it makes for the sake of narrative convenience. There are clearly not two separate creatures within your brain each with their own brain as is depicted. This can cause confusion in other contexts – such as asking which part of my brain is really “me”. But it won’t come up in this post.

The other distortion is viewing the antagonist as a monkey. This conjures up the image of a creature that’s super annoying and capable of some basic strategizing but still fundamentally dumber than you are.

I don’t think my monkey is dumb. I don’t think my monkey is dumb at all.

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snooze chaining

Let’s take a look at the being late for work thing.

Revealed preference would say that I want to be late to work for some reason, since it consistently happens and I’m broadly in control of the relevant factors. I’ll stick with the single-agent revealed preference model for now: there’s the idea that there’s another agent that speaks in words and is generally weaker but able to make some clever interventions, but that doesn’t come up here.

It’s still not clear why I’d want to be late for work though. Let’s explore.

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