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Learning Updates Thread

If you want to learn philosophy or rational thinking, you need to do some stuff on a regular basis. Read books, write notes, write outlines, write articles, write journaling, study stuff, have discussions, etc.

I suggest you write a short, weekly update. How did your week go? What did you do? Did you make progress on your goals? (Figure out some goals and write them down. If in doubt, talk about it or read and watch a wide variety of things.) Do you want to make any changes going forward? Sharing this update is optional. You could do it like journaling.

Write a longer, monthly update. Reflect more on how learning is going, what's working or not working, whether you should adjust any goals or stop or start any projects, what got done or not, etc.

Sharing monthly updates is recommended. If you don't share monthly updates or explain why not, I will not regard you as actually trying to learn philosophy.

I think it'd be best if a bunch of people shared monthly updates at the same time. So let's use the first of the month. Post them below. Put the month and your name in the title field when posting a monthly update, and leave the title blank for anything else, so the monthly updates stand out more.

Posting on your own website and sharing a link here is fine too. With the link, include at least one paragraph of text with some summary and some info to interest people in clicking the link.

Elliot Temple on September 11, 2020

Messages (38)

Aug - Sept 11 curi

I suggest people post Aug updates now to get started instead of waiting to do their first update on Oct 1. I'll go first, but *don't try to copy me*.

I wrote 23 blog posts from Aug 1 through this post. Lots are related to my discussions at Less Wrong (LW). LW discussion was not very productive but worth a try and it helped clarify for me what was available there. I might continue to post there sporadically. Also it led to http://curi.us/2363-discussion-with-gigahurt-from-less-wrong

I read Rationality AI to Zombies (second half), Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring, Moneyball, 1984, Animal Farm, Way of Kings Prime, Three Worlds Collide, POOGI Forum, Haystack Syndrome (50%), Vacuum Diagrams (50%).

I wrote 1989 words per day. That doesn't count discussions like FI posts and curi messages. I try to track, roughly, what writing I think is useful for making forward progress. I wrote 18,500 words of freewriting (a lot is similar to journaling).

I've made lots of videos, particularly for Max tutoring.

That's all good.

The world is being dumb about COVID and riots. It's revealed a lot of government incompetence. I've been following politics less and I quit posting to Twitter.

Big picture: I've continued connecting Goldratt ideas to YesNo and CF. I think I've made progress on improving the ideas, so that's good. I also wrote some Critical Fallibilism stuff but not a lot. I'm actively thinking (and writing) about target audience, writing approach, state of the world, goals, etc.

curi at 7:33 PM on September 11, 2020 | #17985 | reply | quote

> And write a *longer, monthly update*.

By chance I'm doing this today and tomorrow, and was planning to share it to FI (unlike weekly, which I don't think is necessarily interesting enough)

> If you don't share monthly updates or explain why not, I will not regard you as actually trying to learn philosophy.

I think this is fair. Esp because they don't have to talk about everything and can do it under a new pseudonym.

> So let's use the first of the month. Post them below.

Maybe use the 1st of the month from October on? (Otherwise we wait like 3 weeks?) In any case I'm going to share my one here today/tomorrow.

Max at 7:34 PM on September 11, 2020 | #17986 | reply | quote

Aug - Sep 11 Alisa

I updated my learning plan. Below is a summary of the changes.

## Goal: Spend enough time on FI

I intended to spend 2 hours per day on FI at least one day per week. On each of the other days, I intended to average 30-60 minutes on FI.

Result so far: From 2020-07-07 through 2020-09-10, I averaged slightly over 30 minutes per day total (computed with the average() function in the Google Sheet where I track my time). My time tracking is sometimes estimated (I don't always use a stopwatch), so it could be less than 30 minutes. I only had 3 days in that period (computed with sum() and if()) where I spent at least 2 hours on FI. If I were on track with my goal, I would have had at least 9 such days. I think I should change either my goal or my approach for achieving my goal.

## Goal: Practice free-writing

I intended that every day, with 50% probability, I would start off by free-writing for 5 minutes.

Result so far: I have never started off with free-writing. I think I should change either my goal or my approach for achieving my goal.

## Goal: Post to FI every day

This has been going OK.

## Goal: Keep my FI posting error rate low

What this goal amounts to is: I intend to write postmortems for ~all the errors in my posts that I learn about that are in error categories I care about (as listed in my learning plan). This has been going OK.

## Goal: Follow up on things

There are a fair number of messages from the past few months that I've been meaning to follow up on. I intend to add them to my learning plan soon in order to better keep track of them.

Alisa at 10:19 PM on September 11, 2020 | #17993 | reply | quote

#17993 I also judged that I finished Elliot's *English Language, Analysis & Grammar* and *Using Commas* essays. The remaining topic I'm currently working on is the "Check Your Understanding" section of Yes or No Philosophy.

Alisa at 10:29 PM on September 11, 2020 | #17994 | reply | quote

> I think I should change either my goal or my approach for achieving my goal.

Do you know how to make a decision like that? (How?)

curi at 10:54 PM on September 11, 2020 | #17995 | reply | quote

I finished (audiobooks):

- "Teaching Johnny to Think" by Leonard Peikoff

- "Isaac Newton" by James Gleick

- "Philosophy: Who Needs It" by Ayn Rand

- "Popper" by Brian Magee

- "Why Businessmen Need Philosophy" by Ayn Rand

I partly listened to:

- "Ending Aging" by Aubrey de Grey

- "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman" by James Gleick

I started (audiobooks):

- "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt (only doing specific parts)

- "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand (co-listening)

- "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand

- "The Goal" by Eli Goldratt

- "The Fabric of Reality" by David Deutsch (epistemology chapters)

I posted 5 blogposts to encourage myself to keep the blog active. 3 posts where only quotes.

I started practicing typing again. I do roughly 1-2 sessions in Typesy a day.

I have moved to sitting by a folding table more and less in the sofa.

I have started reworking my goals.

My previous goals were too vague. I am working on more specified goals.

I restarted working on Simply Scheme after getting stuck and quitting.

I organised Vienna for RRS following.

I started watching some "Tutoring Max" videos.

Aug - Sept 12 nikluk at 4:18 AM on September 12, 2020 | #17996 | reply | quote

> If you don't share monthly updates or explain why not, I will not regard you as actually trying to learn philosophy.

I am not actually trying to learn philosophy. I haven't ever tried very much / very hard to learn philosophy.

I have a hobby of discussing some topics where philosophy is relevant. As a side effect of pursuing that hobby, sometimes I learn some philosophy. I expect that pattern to continue for the near term.

The near term goals I have are not about philosophy. I don't want to discuss the details of my current near term goals and my progress towards them in public for privacy reasons.

I will say that my near term goals include, as one outcome, getting to a life situation where I think I might decide to actually try to learn philosophy.

However I also recognize that I could succeed at my current near term goals, they could have the effect I anticipate on my life situation, but I might continue to decide not to try to learn philosophy.

Or I could succeed at those goals but they don't have the effect I anticipate on my life situation.

Or I could fail to achieve those goals.

Or something else could happen in my life which would prevent me from trying to learn philosophy, like major sickness or death.

So, I recognize lots of scenarios where I never actually try to learn philosophy. But I'm also still optimistic that at some point I will actually try to learn philosophy.

Andy Dufresne at 2:16 PM on September 12, 2020 | #17998 | reply | quote

Aug - Sept 11 Anne B

SICP: I went from section 1.2.4 to section 2.1.3 in SICP, completing all the exercises except Exercise 2.3, which I am still working on even though I’m doing some of the stuff after it. I watched both the lecture videos by the authors and the lecture videos by Brian Harvey, up through those covering section 2.1.3. I’ve spent 6-18 hours a week on SICP.

Analysis: I want to try different methods of organizing analysis. I did some tree analysis and some chart analysis of paragraphs or sets of paragraphs.

Grammar: I posted at least twice a month about grammar, with a focus on thinking about the grammar I learned last year so I don’t forget it.

Karate: I continued to practice 15-20 minutes a day. My focus is on learning what the correct moves are for each form and on remembering them. (I was very far from knowing all the correct moves when I started this study in February.) In this period I covered two new forms (Bassai and Sip Soo) and reviewed the nine I had worked on before August. I also improved my spear hand strikes.

Technology: I reorganized my website. I tried different methods of formatting my blog posts. I posted my first image to the curi blog. I tried Ulysses, TextSniper, Vienna. I continued to slowly work on learning keyboard shortcuts.

FI: I watched all the curi videos that came out and took notes on them, and read almost all FI posts and curi blog posts and FI Discord chat.

Reading: I’ve read at least two hours every week, sometimes taking notes and sometimes not.

Future: I plan to continue with all of this. I may do more of Simply Scheme in addition to my SICP work.

Anne B at 3:13 PM on September 12, 2020 | #17999 | reply | quote


> I watched all the curi videos that came out and took notes on them

Why don't you share notes?

Anonymous at 3:35 PM on September 12, 2020 | #18000 | reply | quote

I wrote (#17993):

> I think I should change either my goal or my approach for achieving my goal.

curi replied (#17995):

> Do you know how to make a decision like that?

I don't know what "a decision like that" refers to*. However, I can say that I don't know how to make *this particular decision*.

*I realize that it refers to decisions that are similar in some way to the one I mentioned, but that doesn't give me enough information.

Alisa at 10:07 PM on September 12, 2020 | #18001 | reply | quote

Preparing for monthly review and quarterly plan change - 2020-09-13

It's time to do my monthly review and to do my quarterly plan change.

I started documenting my thoughts on this. I decided to break it up into multiple posts. Here's the first in the series.


GISTE at 4:42 AM on September 13, 2020 | #18004 | reply | quote


> I think the biggest win was this: comparing now to the past, I now view learning with the help of other people very differently than previously. Other people can only serve a support role. This is something I knew in abstract but I don't think I successfully incorporated that thinking into my actions until recently. So like in the past, I might get a reply from Elliot and then all my thinking regarding learning goes out the window and now I'm just focussed on what Elliot said, out of context of the broader goal of me learning stuff, out of context of the framework of me driving my learning and how Elliot's ideas (or anybody's external ideas) fit into that.

I've noticed a positive difference. It's partly about being more autonomous and continuing regardless of whether I say anything or not. It's partly about solving some problems on your own instead of getting stuck and being helpless. E.g. I've noticed a few times I was considering replying to tell you something, but then you figured it out yourself later in the post.

> I now watch a lot more of Elliot's screencasts (finished all Tutoring Max series, now working to finish Tutoring InternetRules series).

You write anything about under 10% of them? Why don't you have things to say more often?

curi at 10:53 AM on September 13, 2020 | #18006 | reply | quote


> > I watched all the curi videos that came out and took notes on them

> Why don't you share notes?

I didn’t think of it. I’ll consider posting my notes in the future.

My notes would be different if I knew I was going to post them. I’d take more notes. I’d omit some personal stuff that I thought of in response to the videos. I’d think more about the videos. I’d go back more to make sure I heard and understood things correctly. I don’t know if I want to spend more time on the videos than I have been.

Anne B at 4:19 PM on September 13, 2020 | #18008 | reply | quote

Max's learning report 2020 week 38

My LR for 2020 week 38: https://xertrov.github.io/fi/105 (should work soon if it doesn't yet)

my incomplete LR from last week: https://xertrov.github.io/fi/posts/2020-09-13-learning-report-2020-week-37/

Max at 6:56 PM on September 20, 2020 | #18088 | reply | quote

I didn't post anything about my LR, partially b/c it was like 4 minutes before *tutoring max 42*.

I also posted my LR with a title for the week, but OP says to only do that per month.

I listed a lot in the LR, including links to some postmortems. I talked about about the speedrun I was doing and some updates. I listed some goals of mine, though not in much detail. I didn't really add any sort of reflection to my LR, which I think I might do next time (as well as taking more notes along the way).

Max at 5:25 AM on September 21, 2020 | #18093 | reply | quote

September 11-30 Anne B

SICP: I did Exercises 2.4 through 2.14 and posted my answers.

Analysis: Several times, I started to write an analysis of a passage but didn’t finish it. I’m doubting that the kind of analysis I was doing was good enough and/or that it was useful to me to do it. Or maybe there’s something else going on. I still have a goal of being able to analyze text better, but I’m thinking about other ways to accomplish this.

Grammar: There wasn’t anything else in September that I wanted to post about grammar. I did read a lot of what Justin and others were posting about grammar, and sometimes answered them.

Technology: I looked up how to do things, some of which I’d looked up before and forgotten, and I solved problems that came up in my apps. I spent over eight hours on this, which is more than usual for me.

FI Content: I watched and took notes on the curi videos Tutoring Max #40, #41, #42, #43, #44, Tutoring InternetRules #15, and the curi podcast Rationalism and Convention.

Reading: I spent 3-5 hours per week reading.

Bigger Picture: I’m happy with my coding work. I think I’m learning. I’d like to have another good project in addition to that so that I can switch to it when I’m tired of coding. I want to think of projects that would help me get better at reading. But I also don’t want to pressure myself to take on more than is comfortable for me, so I might also just stick with the coding.

Anne B at 8:43 AM on October 1, 2020 | #18179 | reply | quote

sept 12-30 curi

I wrote 1997 non-discussion words/day. I read some books and used RSS feeds more. I did tutoring videos and some coding work. I was harassed and banned from LW. I'm still studying Goldratt some. I'm still watching chess videos. I worked on Critical Fallibilism (CF) outlining, CF exploratory writing and CF goals/planning.

Progress is OK. No big breakthrough. Not stuck.

In Oct, I plan to do more CF and Goldratt stuff, and to mostly avoid 2020 US election politics.

(Do not try to copy the style, length, format, etc., of my updates.)

curi at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2020 | #18181 | reply | quote

sept 12-30 curi

I finished listening to:

"The Goal" by Eli Goldratt

"It's Not Luck" by Eli Goldratt

"Isn't It Obvious" by Eli Goldratt

I started listening to:

"Radical Son" by David Horowitz

Continuing Simply Scheme. Progress OK.

Started learning Ruby. Progress OK.

Worked on ~3 decision trees.

1 blogpost.

n at 2:16 AM on October 2, 2020 | #18211 | reply | quote

Sep 12 – Oct 2 Alisa

Having failed at my goal of spending more time on FI (see #17993), I set a new goal and updated my learning plan (emphasis added):

> I want to spend more time posting to FI.

> From 2020-07-07 through 2020-10-02, I averaged slightly over 30 (estimated) minutes per day writing FI posts (computed with the AVERAGE function in the Google Sheet where I track my time). Since 2020-09-11, I've been using a clock to track my time most days. My average amount of time per day spent writing FI posts as measured by the clock is 22 minutes. *I intend to spend at least 30 minutes per day writing FI posts as measured by the clock.*

> Note: The total amount of time I spend on FI is more than what's counted above, because I keep up with FI list, the curi.us comments, and the FI newsletter.

Having failed at my free-writing goal (again, see #17993), I added an easier goal to my learning plan for now:

> Every day, my goal is to free-write for 1 minute.

Once I have that under my belt, I intend to go back to the previous free-writing plan.

In #17993, I stated a goal of following up on messages from the past. I have since added those messages to my learning plan and replied to one by qqbb.

My goals of posting to FI daily and keeping my posting error rate low by writing postmortems have been going OK.

Alisa at 8:18 PM on October 2, 2020 | #18218 | reply | quote

My LR for 2020 week 40: https://xertrov.github.io/fi/posts/2020-10-04-learning-report-2020-week-40/

I reflect a bit about curi and my conversation in curi.us/2380. I have some updates on speedrunning SSOL (WR dropping, new route maybe). I started using lifetick to better manage my goals, though not sure how it'll go.

Max at 6:34 PM on October 4, 2020 | #18229 | reply | quote

October Anne B

Coding: I posted answers to SICP Exercises 2.15 through 2.28. I read through Justin’s work on Simply Scheme and because of it made some edits to my Simply Scheme posts.

Reading: I did some thinking about reading skills and made a list of one that I might want to work on. I worked on some of them in a casual way, like looking things up more often and taking notes more often. I made an effort to spend more time reading than I had the previous month and I succeeded at that.

Thinking methods: I made a big tree of a conversation on the FI list.

TCS: I posted some to the FI list about whether to study TCS. I read some TCS material, including some posts to the TCS list, some posts to the curi blog, and some of the TCS website. I posted some comments.

Other FI: I watched and took some notes on the curi tutoring videos. I posted a few times about overreaching and a little about a few other things.

Karate: I stopped posting daily practice notes, although I am still keeping those notes for myself. I’ve settled into having a 15-minute practice session early in the day and then having one thing that I practice several times throughout the day.

Technology: I keep this category on my learning log because I tend to feel intimidated by learning new technology. It gives me some confidence to have a list of technology that I’ve successfully learned how to use.

Learning plan. I modified my learning plan to make it more general. I’m not pressuring myself as much with it, but I still don’t think it’s helping me much. I’ve continued to keep track of how I spend my learning time and I’ve continued to post weekly progress reports.

Big picture: I am still pressuring myself to do learning activities, but less than I had been. I still have the feeling I’m not “doing it right” but I don’t know what “doing it right” looks like. The good news is I’m doing stuff and learning things, and I’m in the habit of focusing on learning. I don’t have any particular plans for next month other than more of the same.

Anne B at 4:26 PM on November 1, 2020 | #18554 | reply | quote

Oct curi

I wrote 2137 non-reply words/day in Oct.

I read a lot and overdid it and have been taking a break from reading much for the last week.

I've been writing Critical Fallibilism stuff and stuff about life goals, philosophy goals, goals for CF material, how to interact with the world, target audience, etc. I've made progress but am not done with that stuff.

I'm going to do a course on CF in Nov. I'll be reviewing a lot of my existing CF writing and prepping slides. I thought teaching it would be a good thing to try to get some different perspective on CF.

curi at 10:22 PM on November 1, 2020 | #18557 | reply | quote

October n

I finished listening to:

"Radical Son" by David Horowitz

"The Government Against the Economy" by Gerorge Reisman

"Free Market Revolution" by Yaron Brook & Don Watkins (partial)

Focusing on programming.

Continuing learning Ruby. Progress OK.

Watching / listening to ARI content on Oism & The Fountainhead.

Worked on ~2 decision trees.

5 blogpost.

n at 10:57 PM on November 1, 2020 | #18558 | reply | quote

Oct 5 - Nov 11 Alisa

I updated my learning plan. Here's the main diff. Basically, I:

- added a section for figuring out my high level goals

- added a section about writing conversationally

- updated the section about spending more time posting to FI – I'm doing OK at this; averaging over an hour a day since early October

- noted my failure at the daily free-writing goal I set for myself in early October and updated my system in a way that I hope will remind me to do better: I now have a column for "freewriting minutes" in the spreadsheet I use to track my daily FI posting time, and I will report the results in future updates to my learning plan

- updated my TTS policy to not require TTS on sentences that I write conversationally

- added 3 new comments/posts that I intend to reply to

Alisa at 8:50 PM on November 11, 2020 | #18615 | reply | quote

Max's Learning Report - 5th Oct to 14th Nov

I've mostly been posting to my microblogging thread and a little to my FI site. I've written a decent amount.

I finished *The Choice* (finally) and started *Philosophy: Who Needs It*. I'm really enjoying P:WNI. One of my favourite sections so far is Rand's open letter to Boris Spassky.

I haven't discussed *The Choice* much. The latter sections (e.g. comfort zones) I haven't discussed at all. I'm not overly worried, though why shouldn't I be worried? I wrote a post about how it's important to have good self-judgement and to fully complete the learning cycle. Have I done so wrt *The Choice*? I can't remember much off the top of my head re: comfort zones. I think I might have to revisit the last few chapters again.

I wrote 11887 words in my microblogging thread between these dates. This report covers ~40 days, so I wrote an average of ~297 words per day. I notice I felt pretty good reflecting on writing ~12k words total, but less good thinking about ~300 words / day. It doesn't make sense to feel less good like that, though. For one there's sampling bias -- I've written more recently on the whole -- but more importantly: I've started writing more in general, and I am looking forward to writing if I haven't for a while. I *want* to write down thoughts and ideas now, regularly. *Before tutoring I only wanted to write things down when I was struck with particular and fleeting motivation.* I'm excited to think that I might be moving past that.

I've also started curi's CF course. I'm finding it both good revision of yes/no and tutorial matieral, and also a good source of inspiration for connecting ideas I previously hadn't -- like breakpoints and excess capacity. (I'm not sure if curi and I covered this at all in the tutorials, but it hadn't sunk in if we had.)

## sizeable or significant posts

- Conversation with curi: (Tutoring Max #49) There are no conflicts of interest between rational men

- Initial answers to some conflicts of interest questions (TM#49)

- Some thoughts on good/bad error msgs. I think they're important. I found a surprise overlap with *helping the best ppl or helping the masses* -- I think there were issues with this; the quality was too low b/c it was almost like personal notes. I haven't done a PM or tried to re-write it.

- harmony of interests - don't forget about unknowns

- [in-progress idea on (in)dependent status of variables as yes/no property of explanations [Max]](http://curi.us/2380-max-microblogging#18533) -- I never finished this idea, but I did change my mind on whether it was worth thinking about. I got stuck at the point where I think I needed a way to test if an explanation was yes/no, but at that point you have to do significant creative thought anyway, so you can just directly criticise it. like there's no an obvious way this could be useful. the idea wasn't solving a major bottleneck or anything, so I stopped thinking about it.

- [feedback request: "Why I Live" draft 1 [Max]](http://curi.us/2380-max-microblogging#18534) -- this is mirrored on my site and there are some follow up comments. It's about the importance of choosing to pursue great ideas. Anne and I have some conversation about it.

- reflections on 'Why I Live' draft & idea in general -- I had some reflections on the above post, particularly I thought I was dishonest in the way I put forward the idea. I presented it like it was reality, but really it's an aspiration. It's partly true, but I'm not close to consistent.

- I'm thinking of unendorsing ~everything I've written -- I'm still considering this and planning on posting to FI about it.

- Reach + parameterisation of reach -- Some ideas I had about *reach* and how it related to reality. particularly that there are infinite ways reach can be parameterised.

- low-error-rate post on good self-judgement and learning - minor error 1

- Some policies I am thinking of writing -- social engagements; gift giving; birthdays and celebrations

- a danger of unconventional ideas on academia

- running communities based on ideas - note to self

- Choices Matter (reflection)

## short/tiny/insignificant posts

- some thoughts on project planning - Max

- (goal, context) pair

- difference between actual and future people

- Brief thoughts on different types of errors (learning / overreaching)

- betting strategy

- *the choice*

- What does it mean to choose to be a heroic achiever?

- convergence in some of Rand's ideas and rational/static memes

- Can collaborative writing be used as a good learning tool and error correction process?

## Things I could have practiced but haven't

- mapping a conversation tree

- (other things I haven't remembered)

## Posts I'm thinking of writing:

- A postmortem (posted to FI) on some somewhat recent stuff I didn't understand and now think I do

- Thoughts on secondhandedness and the interaction with great people -- relates to some thoughts I had regarding this thank-you msg to curi: http://curi.us/2385-discussion-points-of-view-and-mutual-benefit#18262

- Reflections on tutoring (now that we've stopped the tutorials)

## Desires / Goals

- I want to keep up my writing and exceed my words-per-day average next time I do a learning report. In service to this I can keep track of what I write as I go, that way it'll be easier to put together the next LR (this one is taking some time).

- I want to keep thinking (and writing) about learning and related topics. I feel like it's going to be very important to get that right.

- I want to work on removing overheads from my life. Buffer can deal with some overheads, but there's a limit to that. If you have too many overheads then no amount of buffer will let you fully avoid big impacts on your life. I'm going to start small by getting my house in order and selling some excess things.

- I want to develop my plan for a mass-unendorsing. (Maybe I should note it's not a way to escape doing post-mortems about things in the past & discussing past mistakes; it's just a way to be unshackled from legacy)

## Misc

I counted words by copying all my comments from microblogging to a text file. Then I used ctrl+f w/ 'reply | quote' to quickly find+remove comments by other ppl. I then used the regex `^([\w\d #:\(\)\.\-\/'?>,”“|’\[\]\*])*\| quote$` to remove all the lines with `... | reply | quote` in them. I then went and removed all quotes with the regex `^>([\w\d #:\(\)\.\-\/'?>,”“|’\[\]\*…";])*` -- checking that my regex covered each full quotation (that wasn't like a comment; I sometimes mark comments with quotes to visually separate them).

Max at 7:45 PM on November 13, 2020 | #18653 | reply | quote

November Anne B

I posted about a section and a few exercises in SICP. I read Justin’s posts on Simply Scheme and as a result made some edits to my posts on Simply Scheme. I’m doing less coding work than I was.

I made a few posts about TCS.

I posted about project planning: some project planning steps and some practice project plans.

I joined a collaborative writing project that Max started.

I made some other posts to FI.

I watched the FI videos Tutoring Max #50 (rewatch) and #52, and eight philosophy stream highlights videos.

I continued reading and continued trying to get more out of my reading by looking things up and writing some about them.

I changed my learning plan from a plan into a short list of broad things I’m working on. I stopped posting weekly updates. In the past few days I’ve had a little success on not pressuring myself to do learning activities. I will work on that more.

Anne B at 12:36 PM on December 1, 2020 | #18915 | reply | quote

Nov curi

In Nov I taught my Critical Fallibilism course. Most of my writing was making slides for it, and some freewrites. It went well. The videos will go on sale later.

I also posted in my microblogging thread. First Nov post:


I also learned some stuff about design, marketing, value pricing and election fraud.

curi at 12:43 PM on December 1, 2020 | #18916 | reply | quote

Nov Alisa

I updated my learning plan (diff). Summary:

- I think my life goal is to figure out a better life goal (i.e., a goal that's better than figuring out what my life goal is). That may take a while and I may have to learn some stuff to achieve that. That's OK. It's an interesting project in its own right.

- I shortened my queue of un-replied-to recent messages from 7 items to 4.

- I've been freewriting for at least 5 minutes per day since my last update here, except for one day, when I forgot. Freewriting every day was a goal I had been failing at when I wrote my last update.

- Separately, I've been thinking about my life goals for at least 5 minutes per day since my last update here, except for one day, when I forgot.

Alisa at 9:15 PM on December 1, 2020 | #18922 | reply | quote


> - I shortened my queue of un-replied-to recent messages from 7 items to 4.

Actually, I shortened it from 7 items to 3. The list can be seen in the "Things to revisit, without dates" section of my learning plan.

This mistake happened during editing. I was going to say I shortened it *by* 4 items from 7, but then I re-ordered it to put the 7 before the 4, and didn't catch the mistake.

Alisa at 9:20 PM on December 1, 2020 | #18923 | reply | quote


> I've been freewriting for at least 5 minutes per day

how is that going? useful?

curi at 9:21 PM on December 1, 2020 | #18924 | reply | quote

November n

I finished:

“Liberalism: In the Classical Tradition” by Ludwig von Mises

“Theory and History” by Ludwig von Mises

“Anatomy of the State” by Murray Rothbard

Focusing on programming (Ruby).

Progress decent.

Difficulties w/ understanding good practices re TDD (how do I write good tests and do not overdo it? Is TDD good? I think it is good from what I understand.)

Listened some to Peikoff podcast.

Worked on ~1 decision trees.

Published 2 blogpost.

(Most blogposts stay non published - I do not revisit them.)

Commented more than usual on curi.us.

Made one curi highlight video.

I learned some new things about editing tools.

Started to think more on paper / writing down what I am thinking about to get a better understanding of it.

n at 9:44 PM on December 1, 2020 | #18925 | reply | quote


> Is TDD good?

TDD is pretty heavily criticized, tho some ppl still use it. There are lots of videos if you search YT for 'problems with tdd'.

There's some good ideas in TDD, but it's flawed on the whole. You need to bring extra ideas to it if you want to make it work well -- at least that's my experience for most projects. Part of the reason for that is most projects don't exist in isolation; they get maintained and mixed with other code and split up and refactored and integrated and unbundled and etc etc.

The core issue with TDD is that it neglects the structure of knowledge (and the code is just a body of knowledge represented written down in some programming language).

What's so important about structure? If you do bad TDD then you can have tests like:


import { add } from '../lib';

describe('addition works', () => {

expectEquals(2, add(0, 2), 'zero does nothing');

expectEquals(2, add(-1, add(1, 2)), 'adding 1 and subtracting 1 gives you the original number back');

expectEquals(7, add(4, 3), 'can do some basic maths');

expectEquals(1000000, add(500000, 500000), 'big numbers work too');

expectEquals(7, add(2, 5), 'more basic addition checks');



What's wrong with that? Can you think of anything?


Well, is this implementation of `add` okay?


export function add(a, b) {

if (a > 10 || b > 10) {

return 1000000;

// todo: figure out how to do big numbers.

// the tests are broken if you don't put this here first.


if (a > b) {

// a bitwise xor is cheap addition for our purposes.

return a ^ b;


// we won't need to worry about addition beyond 10 until q4 2018

const counter = [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10];

const drop = (xs, n) => { return xs.slice(n); };

if (a < counter.length && b < drop(counter, a).length) {

return drop(drop(counter, a), b)[0];


// M: should we ever get here?

// E: the answer to first test cases was 2 so it's probably a safe default

return 2;



What went wrong?

If you have extra ideas about TDD it might be worth writing them down to try and figure out what the good bits are. What differentiates good tests from bad tests?

Here's a YT search for videos on a realated but much better testing methodology -- linked to avoid spoilers.

Max at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2020 | #18934 | reply | quote

Dec 2020 Alisa

My main accomplishment was getting within 20% of the Super Mario Bros. any% speedrun world record.

I kept up my streak of posting every day, but I forgot to freewrite a few days. I need a better system for this.

I started reading *Bureaucracy* by Mises and *Time Will Run Back* and *Thinking as a Science* by Hazlitt. I'm having a tough time with *Bureaucracy*, but I'm enjoying the other two.

There are a few more details and numbers in my learning plan (diff).

Alisa at 2:06 PM on January 3, 2021 | #19352 | reply | quote

Jan 2021 Alisa

Learning projects update (Jan 2021):

- Fat loss: BMI 29.5 → 28.9

- SMB1 any%: 5m 54s → 5m 24s

- Daily posting streak: 448 → 479 days

- Reading:

- Finished "Time Will Run Back"

- Thinking as a Science: 20% complete

- Daily freewriting: Noting the date of each freewriting session in my freewriting "diary" has been helpful, but I still missed 3 days in January.

- Average hours per day spent on activities related to my life goals in Jan: 3.15

- Reduce FI backlog: # of messages: 3 → 3 (no progress)

Alisa at 9:43 PM on February 2, 2021 | #19840 | reply | quote


> - SMB1 any%: 5m 54s → 5m 24s

Correction: That should be 5m 20s, not 5m 24s. 5m 24s was my approximate goal.

Link to 5m 20s run: https://www.speedrun.com/smb1/run/z50jw8ey

Alisa at 9:46 PM on February 2, 2021 | #19841 | reply | quote

#19840 :)

curi at 9:50 PM on February 2, 2021 | #19842 | reply | quote

Feb 2021 Alisa

I'm much busier than usual this month with life stuff.  I'm not going to post as detailed of a learning update as I usually do.

I've continued to do at least  5 minutes a day on each of my FI projects. I beat my SMB1 goal of 5m 15s with a 5m 11s time, but the recording didn't have sound (there was a problem I didn't notice with a sound driver), and sound is required for SMB1 any% runs on speedrun.com, so it wouldn't have counted. I expect to be able to get it again – with sound, this time – before too long.

My BMI is down from 28.9 on Feb 2 to 28.1 on Mar 10. I'm getting pretty close to my goal of 28.

Alisa at 6:01 PM on March 9, 2021 | #20136 | reply | quote

#20136 My BMI on Mar 10 was actually 28.7, not 28.1. 28.7 is still progress, but it's not close to my goal of 28. I don't know how the mistake happened.

I'm using this site to calculate my BMI: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

One thing that theoretically could have caused the mistake is mis-entering my height or my weight on the BMI form. To investigate this possibility, I used the following formula on Wolfram Alpha: w × 0.453592/((2.54 × h/100)²) = 28.1, where w represents my weight in pounds and h represents my height in inches.

First, I plugged in my actual weight and solved for height. Next, I put in my actual height and solved for weight. In both cases, the numbers I would have needed to enter to get a BMI of 28.1, assuming the rest of the data was entered correctly, aren't something I would have been likely to enter by mistake.

Alisa at 5:00 PM on March 10, 2021 | #20139 | reply | quote

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