I am trying to stay anonymous on this account in order to encourage myself to post more. If you think you can deduce my identity based on what I have posted, I would really appreciate it if you let me know so that I can scale back revealing details.

# just_browsing

# [Question] How hard is it to disguise my gait?

I could see the spotlight being unpleasant because the brightness differences might cause eye strain, unless the light is really perfectly placed. Sunlight (or even shade) seems much better in this regard. Interesting idea though—I’m surprised how affordable that spotlight is.

Does Kelvin Color Temperature change much in the sun compared to the shade? Based on feel, the shade feels way brighter to me than even the brightest warm (= low Kelvin) lights indoors. This intuition could be wrong though.

# [Question] Is sitting in the sun much better than sitting in the shade?

I really like your way of thinking about why books are useful!

This reminds me of another argument for why books are useful which came up in this 80,000 Hours podcast episode with Julia Galef.

**Julia Galef:**[...] You know, the thing that I think books do really well is provide a nice container for a thesis or ideas, such that it’s easy to spread and talk about. And they do this better than blog posts, for the most part. I’ve heard people sometimes say, “Most books should be blog posts,” or “Most books should be articles,” or something like that, and I sympathize with that view.Another way of phrasing this: when two people have read the same book, even if they don’t remember the details, they can reference the book as a “pointer” and make deeper arguments (held up by their intuitions about the book, ingrained because they spent so much time engaging with its entirety) than they would have been able to make if they had only read summaries.

What blog posts are for: a response to “What books are for: a response to ‘Why books don’t work.’”

I read this blog post carefully yet absorbed only a small fraction of the total details it contains. You’re only communicating one key idea here. For greater learning efficiency, you may as well replace this post with a one-sentence summary:

*“Anyway, I think that books are basically mechanisms to leverage this availability heuristic.”*

If you want more opinions on your situation than whatever you get on LessWrong, you could try asking this question on https://academia.stackexchange.com/ ). They have an entire tag on errors in published papers.

Glad to hear I pointed you to some helpful stuff!

The log(popularity) is to discourage me from populating this list with lots of insightful but really well-known or easy to find stuff—I think this would make it less interesting or useful. Then “log” was arbitrarily chosen to weaken the penalty on popularity (compared to if I just divided by it). I’m not doing any of this quantitatively anyway, so it’s really just me rationalizing including “Doing Good Better” but not the n other good popular things I ‘should’ similarly recommend.

Yes, I completely agree with this point. I hope I made it clear that I like thinking about data like this exclusively for personal “outside view”-y reflection. So things like, “Oh I haven’t gotten anything done this morning, maybe it’s because of (x cycle variable), so maybe I can do (y intervention) to fix things”. And then, generalizing to other women only in the sense that they might find it helpful to think similar thoughts.

They didn’t mention sex drive, but the binary variable “had sex” did come up in the study. However individual fluctuations cancelled out any patterns beyond “more sex on weekends” and “less sex during periods”.

# Menstrual cycle effects—Clue study summary and commentary

Thing I would do if I had enough money for $200 to be inconsequential: buy 2 pairs of identical bluetooth headphones—one permanently paired to my laptop and one permanently paired to my phone. This would save me lots of annoyance whenever I switch between the two. Bluetooth seems to just suck

Summarized, this post seems to be saying “Learning <thing> is most effective if you get the most effective teacher. The most effective teachers of <thing> aren’t necessarily the most skilled (“the best”) people—they are people who are marginally more skilled in <thing> than you (“the same”).”

The first sentence seems very true. The second sentence is often true, but as johnswentworth pointed out, there are exceptions. I’ll restate his exception and add two of my own.

(from johnswentworth’s comment) If the skill is niche, you may have no choice but to learn from the best. In particular, the best may be the best since they know something everybody else doesn’t.

It can be valuable to gain a “30000 foot overview” of a topic if you want to learn how experts in a field think. Such an overview is best given by “the best” in that field, not people who are “same”. For example, a graduate student in one field might attend a seminar in a different, only slightly related field, hoping to ignore the details and take away a broad bigger picture of the field.

Masterclasses exist. For example, a student musician may gain a lot from a single lesson with a world-class musician.

For examples 2 and 3, the shared attribute here is that it can be beneficial to learn the “compressed” knowledge the “best” expert has, rather than less compressed knowledge from a “same” teacher. Even if the student can’t “uncompress” this knowledge, there is still value in learning the general shape of a body of knowledge.

**Problem**: I compulsively pick at scabs. Often I do it even though I don’t want to pick at it because I know I’ll be worse off. (Scab will bleed, it’ll just reform anyway, and I’ll have to deal with the unhealed skin for longer.) Telling myself “don’t pick” doesn’t work, I get very distracted by the presence of the scab and HAVE TO pick.**Solution**: put a band-aid over the scab. Blocking the scab makes picking more difficult. More crucially, the adhesive of the bandaid gives me a mildly ticklish sensation which masks the sensation that a pickable scab is present.**Caveat**: this has been most helpful for face scabs, but face bandaids are awkward. This has worked fine for me because I tend to pick when I’m alone, so I can just apply bandaids when alone and take them off when people will see me. But if you spend most of your time around people this may not work for you.

That’ll teach me to post without thinking! Yes, you’re right that is the better way to deal with variance here. (Or honestly, the method from the above comment is the slickest way.)

I had been thinking of a similar kind of situation, where you have a fixed and varying sample sizes . Then, the smaller gives more extreme outcomes than larger . Of course, this isn’t applicable here.

Thanks for describing your data! I was hoping to hear stuff exactly like this.

In particular I can confirm experiencing these states

This is the best time for boring but important work

Cognitively I’m sharpest during this time (I can think the fastest but can’t focus that well)

at different times of the month (and I think it correlates with my cycle) but haven’t noticed patterns this granular. I’ve started collecting data (and am trying to not let my knowledge of where I am in my cycle bias my perceived measurements) so maybe in several months I’ll be able to confirm similar patterns.

The intuitive way to think about this is the heuristic “small numbers produce more extreme outcomes”. Both choices have the same expected number of deaths. But the 50% option is higher variance than the 5% option. Our goal is to maximize the likelihood of getting the “0 deaths” outcome, which is an extreme outcome relative to the mean. So we can conclude the 50% option is better without doing any math.

Perhaps a better way to describe this set is ‘all you can build in finitely many steps using addition, inverse, and multiplication, starting from only elements with finite support’.

Ah, now I see what you are after.

But if you use addition on one of them, things may go wrong.

This is exactly right, here’s an illustration:

Here is a construction of : We have that is the inverse of Moreover, is the inverse of . If we want this thing to be closed under inverses and addition, then this implies that

can be constructed.

But this is actually bad news if you want your multiplicative inverses to be unique. Since is the inverse of , we have that is the inverse of . So then you get

so

On the one hand, this is a relief, because it explains the strange property that this thing stays the same when multiplied by . On the other hand, it means that it is no longer the case that the coordinate representation is well-defined—we can do operations which, by the rules, should produce equal outputs, but they produce different coordinates.

In fact, for any polynomial (such as ), you can find one inverse which uses arbitrarily high positive powers of and another inverse which uses arbitrarily low negative powers of . The easiest way to see this is by looking at another example, let’s say .

One way you can find the inverse of is to get the out of the term and keep correcting: first you have , then you have , then you have , and so on.

Another way you can find the inverse of is to write its terms in opposite order. So you have and you do the same correcting process, starting with , then , and continuing in the same way.

Then subtract these two infinite series and you have a bidirectional sum of integer powers of which is equal to .

My hunch is that any bidirectional sum of integer powers of which we can actually construct is “artificially complicated” and it can be rewritten as a one-directional sum of integer powers of . So, this would mean that your number system is what you get when you take the union of Laurent series going in the positive and negative directions, where bidirectional coordinate representations are far from unique. Would be delighted to hear a justification of this or a counterexample.

- 11 Feb 2021 17:27 UTC; 4 points) 's comment on Rafael Harth’s Shortform by (

If I’m correctly understanding your construction, it isn’t actually using any properties of . You’re just looking at a formal power series (with negative exponents) and writing powers of instead of . Identifying with “” gives exactly what you motivated— and (which are and when interpreted) are two different things.

The structure you describe (where we want elements and their inverses to have finite support) turns out to be quite small. Specifically, this field consists precisely of all monomials in . Certainly all monomials work; the inverse of is for any and .

To show that nothing else works, let and be any two nonzero sums of finitely many integer powers of (so like ). Then, the leading term (product of the highest power terms of and ) will be some nonzero thing. But also, the smallest term (product of the lower power terms of and ) will be some nonzero thing. Moreover, we can’t get either of these to cancel out. So, the product can never be equal to . (Unless both are monomials.)

For an example, think about multiplying . The leading term is the highest power term and is the lowest power term. We can get all the inner stuff to cancel but never these two outside terms.

A larger structure to take would be formal Laurent series in . These are sums of finitely many negative powers of and arbitrarily many positive powers of . This set is closed under multiplicative inverses.

Equivalently, you can take the set of rational functions in . You can recover the formal Laurent series from a rational function by doing long division / taking the Taylor expansion.

(If the object extends infinitely in the negative direction and is bounded in the positive direction, it’s just a formal Laurent series in .)

If it extends infinitely in both directions, that’s an interesting structure I don’t know how to think about. For example, stays the same when multiplied by . This means what we have isn’t a field. I bet there’s a fancy algebra word for this object but I’m not aware of it.

Wow the long and heavy periods sound insane and exhausting. Yeah I have asked doctors about ways to mitigate period pain—seems like “4 hours of pretty bad cramps” was not enough for them to recommend anything beyond going on the pill.

I have not been explicitly collecting data on productivity vs period. I do track my cycle and (when I remember) my symptoms throughout the month. I have a few reasons to believe that my menstrual cycle greatly influences my productivity:

The obvious fact that I can’t do anything productive during the first 4 hours of my period.

For me, minor physical symptoms like stomach ache, headache, bloating happen during certain points of my cycle. These symptoms make me slightly worse at concentrating / socializing, which decreases my productivity.

Sometimes there are days where I am unusually productive. They never happen during or right before my period.

I think the conversations here have inspired me to track more data more reliably!

This is a good point concerning current gait recognition technology. However, I don’t doubt it will improve. On longer timescales, this should happen naturally as compute gets cheaper and more data gets collected. On shorter timescales, this can be accelerated using techniques such as synthetic data generation.

Perhaps there is a natural limit to gait recognition, if it turns out that people can’t be uniquely identified from their gait, even in the limit of perfect data. But if there isn’t, then in 10 years, “94%” will turn into “99.999%”, or whatever is needed for gait recognition to be worth thinking about.

In this situation (and in the situation where I leave my phone at home), this question becomes relevant again.