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Classified Thread 4: Vinson Classif

This is the…monthly? bimonthly? occasional?…classified thread. Post advertisements, personals, and any interesting success stories from the last thread.

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418 Responses to Classified Thread 4: Vinson Classif

  1. alicorn says:

    Do any Bay Area medical professionals read SSC? Conventional methods of finding doctors are failing me and we just moved away from our approximately adequate prior folks. We need:

    – a pediatrician for my 14 month old
    – new general practitioner/internist/etc. for me and spouse
    – a dentist
    – anyone else who’d like to be on my radar for future specialist needs

    We have Kaiser for insurance but may be able to change it to get a better fit.

    I will also take recommendations as long as you think you can improve on “choose random doctors based on what school they went to and whether they are a lot or only moderately obnoxious about Lifestyle Choices in their Kaiser writeups”.

    Requiring literally any telephone contact ever is a huge negative. An irresistible temptation to tell me to lose weight is a huge negative.

    • veeloxtrox says:

      My 16 month old has been going to Altos Pediatric Associates, very good experience. Easy scheduling for regular checkups and have always been able to bring my kid in when sick to get looked at. I don’t know if they are in network for you though

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      Regarding the “irresistible temptation to tell me to lose weight”, why is it so hard to say:

      “Ok, both you and I know that you’re overweight. I’m obliged to tell you that it’s a risk factor for conditions X, Y, and Z, which we’ll monitor with A, B, and C. However, one of the biggest risks is doctors ignoring other health concerns due to stigma. So, has anything been bothering you?”

      • fortaleza84 says:

        Part of the problem is that obesity aggravates virtually every health condition, literally from your head to your feet. So if a fat person goes to the doctor with a health complaint, and there’s a way to treat the problem without any medicines or drugs, it’s kind of difficult for the doctor not to at least mention it.

        Another part of the problem is that fat people have a tendency to be super-sensitive about their condition. So if the doctor mentions the person’s obesity even in a very gentle way, a lot of people will hear vicious fat-shaming.

        • toastengineer says:

          The trouble is when all the doctor will do is say “lose weight.” Especially when the issue is preventing me from exercising!

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Limiting your food intake is more important for weight loss than exercising.

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            I mean, yeah, everyone knows that reducing your caloric intake is the way to lose weight. The problem is actually doing it.

            I’m not overweight enough that it’s a health issue, just average-American-level overweight; I’d like to shed the extra twenty pounds, but every time I significantly reduce my food intake to the point where it would make a difference, I start getting headaches, fatigue, feelings of weakness, etc. Maybe if I toughed it out my body would eventually adjust to the new norm, but feeling crappy makes it difficult to work and get shit done.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I mean, yeah, everyone knows that reducing your caloric intake is the way to lose weight.

            Actually, I have heard a lot of people express many cockamamie ideas about “the way to lose weight.” From 3 hour a day exercise programs; to consuming zero carbs; to daily consumption of straight cooking oil; etc.

            People waste a lot of time and effort on this kind of nonsense.

            The problem is actually doing it.

            I agree that it’s psychologically difficult to stick to a diet.

            I’d like to shed the extra twenty pounds, but every time I significantly reduce my food intake to the point where it would make a difference, I start getting headaches, fatigue, feelings of weakness, etc. Maybe if I toughed it out my body would eventually adjust to the new norm, but feeling crappy makes it difficult to work and get shit done.

            Most likely that’s just withdrawal symptoms. Not that I’m a weight loss guru or anything, but that’s been my experience.

          • Viliam says:

            At the obvious risk of recommending something that worked for me specifically, and may be useless for anyone else, I would recommend this:

            1) Weightlifting. Compared with other forms of “calories out” it requires less time, no money, and as a side effect you become strong, which recursively helps burning calories, and correlates with longer expected life even after controlling for the amount of exercise. I also think it is psychologically much healthier to focus on “becoming stronger” rather than “losing fat” (gaining a positive outcome vs avoiding a negative outcome).

            2) Check and fix your body chemistry. There are things beyond food and exercise that contribute to feeling weak. (In my case, finding that I was iron-deficient and taking supplements made a huge difference in how I feel.) Getting enough sleep is another obvious step.

            3) Be strategic about your food. Instead of “less of the same crap” aim to eat healthier, even if it would be the same amount in the first iteration. It requires strategic thinking, because at the moment you are looking in your fridge, it may be already too late to make healthy decisions. The really important decisions are made at the shop. Actually, the best decisions are made when you select a group of healthy and tasty recipes you want to master; at the shop you should already follow a written shopping list.

            If you do these three things properly, it should be just a question of time until the improvements come. But it may take a few months until they become obvious from outside. For example, the initial conversion of fat to muscle will actually not decrease your total weight. And the first muscle growth may be invisible, because the muscle is still covered by a layer of fat. It’s just, when you look at your records, you will see how today you can lift weights you were not able to lift a month or two ago. Then, speaking pessimistically, the worst case is that despite all effort you will remain fat, but stronger and healthier. Compared with worst cases of other weight-losing strategies (which typically damage your health, e.g. through dehydration), I think this level of risk is quite acceptable.

            When I think about the typical reasons people fail, it seems the common topic is making it about virtue signalling and sacrifice, as if the more you suffer the closer to salvation you get. Some people believe in this strongly, and will criticize you if they see that you are not suffering as much as you “should”. In reality, the opposite is true: the less you suffer, the more likely you are to follow the plan. (Read Don’t shoot the dog for an explanation how mind and habits work.) Specifically…

            It is okay to make the strategy as cheap as possible (but not cheaper). You don’t need to join an expensive gym; you can exercise at home, using your own body weight and a $10 pull-up bar. (Read Convict Conditioning for detailed info.) You probably can buy fresh vegetables quite cheaply, if you explore a few options. Cooking at home takes some time, but it saves money, and typically results in much healthier food (e.g. containing much less salt) than you could buy.

            There will be some initial cost in time that you can’t avoid completely; but the regular time costs of following the plan can again be made as low as possible (but not lower). Read carefully how exactly to exercise, and maybe take some feedback from more experienced friends; but later, you are just following the same movements over and over again. Exercising three times a week is enough (although seven times a week makes the habit much easier to stick); and you don’t need more than an hour (and that already includes breaks, which you can use to e.g. wash the dishes if you exercise at home). Researching healthy recipes can be annoying, but again, you only need to do it once, and then you repeat the same things over and over again. (Read the Forks Over Knives cookbook; install Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen checklist app.) Realistically, ten good recipes are all you need; if you take the whole month to learn one, you are done in a year. Cooking the same thing repeatedly will make you much faster than the first time; and after a while, you will also get some ability to improvise and multi-task. (Again, while waiting for the water to boil or for the meal to cook, I can do dishes, or read the web.)

            It is okay to reduce your suffering, or even… here comes the blasphemous part… make the whole process enjoyable. As long as you focus on what is important, you are free to optimize everything else. The exercise is inherently difficult, but good music can make the experience much better. Some vegetables are more tasty than others; choose the ones you like. (Note: regardless of what many Americans believe, french fries are not a central example of a “vegetable”. When I use the word, I mean things like fresh cucumber, tomato, green salad, etc.) Feel free to use spices (other than salt and sugar). Eating fat is okay; some fat is actually necessary to process vitamins A, D, E, K, and it makes the vegetables tastier. As a beginner, remember that perfect is the enemy of good: even food consisting of 50% crap and 50% fresh vegetables is a huge improvement over food consisting of 100% crap (this is essentially the secret behind the diets that actually work for many people, such as paleo diet).

            tl;dr — if you suffer, you are doing it wrong! but finding the right way requires strategy.

            As a final note, “less calories in” can be a dangerous advice if you ignore nutrients and vitamins, because following it blindly results in eating less of the necessary stuff. (The “withdrawal symptoms” may actually be the remainders of your health screaming for help.)

        • Deiseach says:

          Thank you, fortaleza84, for exhibiting precisely the attitude that is so aggravating.

          “Yes, but do you know you’re fat?”

          Golly gee whilikers, why no, nobody has ever mentioned this before!

          Surprisingly enough, fat people tend to have an idea that they are fat, and that this aggravates pre-existing conditions and predisposes to developing others. God knows, it would be rather difficult not to, what with the blaring headlines about the OBESITY EPIDEMIC.

          The problem is when a fat person goes in with something that – surprise, surprise – a thin person would also get, for reasons completely unassociated with fatness, and gets the “yes but do you know you’re fat” routine complete with brush-off about any attempt to raise the “okay but have you noticed the knife sticking out of my leg?” symptoms.

          For instance, there is a family history in my maternal family of arthritis. My grandmother (not fat) got it so badly that she was bedbound with frozen joints for the last eleven years of her life. My mother (not fat) got it in her wrists so badly the doctor prescribed her gold injections, and she had it in her hands up to her death. My sister (not fat) developed twinges of it as she got older (are you starting to notice a pattern here?) I (am fat) also got twinges in my wrists and hands and went to the doctor, ready to explain the family history.

          I got the “well being fat puts strains on your joints, it’s not arthritis, it’s the weight – lose the weight and you won’t have the pains”.

          Fine advice if I were complaining of knee or hip pains. Not so good when I was talking about my thumbs. I don’t have a habit of walking by means of my thumbs, so I’m not entirely sure how the “weight-bearing joint” part worked there.

          Ditto for the flu – “breathlessness? that’s the weight!” – which thanks, doc, I got a nice dose of the swine flu the time it was going around and was bed-bound for a fortnight so weak I literally could not lift my arms.

          At this stage, I know if I got run over by a truck, the medical advice I’d get would be “yes, but do you know that you’re fat? this would never have happened if you’d stuck to a diet and exercise regime!”

          So if the doctor mentions the person’s obesity even in a very gentle way, a lot of people will hear vicious fat-shaming.

          I’m waiting for the day one of you thin people goes to the doctor with a complaint and gets the “yes but do you know you’re tall?” run-around. Being tall is a health hazard, you know! There are conditions associated with it! Have you tried not being tall? No, that bleeding out of your ears has nothing to do with any condition, simply lose a couple of inches and it’ll go away 🙂

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            You’re being extremely unfair and, towards the end, a bit disingenuous.

            [Complaints about specific encounters with specific doctors I won’t argue with; but your case against doctors mentioning weight in principle is extremely weak. And fortaleza84’s example is quite overtly reasonable.]

            I used to be fat, became thin, now on my way back towards the, uh, fuller side of the spectrum (BMI says “overweight”, but not by much).

            Back when I was fat, I practiced an interesting form of denialism: I didn’t consider myself fat because nobody ever mentioned it. If someone did mention it, it was a shock to me. Me, fat? How dare you?

            I’m not saying everyone does this; but I did, and it seems very plausible to me that a gentle reminder about weight (from someone with some medical authority) might be necessary for some people, otherwise they will fall into this kind of rationalization. “Well the doctor didn’t say I was fat, so I must not need to lose weight at all!”

            [It’s also very easy to rationalize away most comments that don’t come from my doctor. The doctor didn’t say anything, so what do you know? The whole thing about the obesity crisis is exactly the same: it’s all stupid media hype, it doesn’t apply to me, etc. Your words actually suggest this: the phrase “blaring headlines” strongly implies, at least to me, that you view it all as over-sensationalized nonsense, making it easy to ignore.]

            And of course, for your tallness example: I see your other comments here, and I know you’re smarter than that. How in the heck is someone going to “lose a couple of inches”? With a chainsaw? Fatness can be controlled; weight can be lost, without needing to physically slice pieces off yourself. The doctor is only going to tell you about these very general health issues if they expect that you might be able to do something about it, otherwise what’s the bloody point?

            [Yes, yes, some people have real serious conditions which make it extremely hard for them to lose weight; but the typical overweight person doesn’t. Whereas all tall people will find it difficult to lose height.]

          • Saint Fiasco says:

            Some of my relatives are very tall and doctors do point that out. Of course they don’t suggest that they lose height, but they recommend exercise to have stronger muscles in the back and legs and also to get in the habit of being very mindful of their postures.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Thank you, fortaleza84, for exhibiting precisely the attitude that is so aggravating.

            You are most welcome. There’s nothing like a former fatty to call out the defensiveness, denialism, and delusions that so typically accompany obesity.

            “breathlessness? that’s the weight!” –

            In hindsight, I wish my doctor had had the cajones to tell me that my incessant coughing was in all likelihood caused by fat taking up space which was needed by my respiratory system.

          • Deiseach says:

            my incessant coughing was in all likelihood caused by fat taking up space which was needed by my respiratory system

            I’ve always been on the heavy side. Never had a breathlessness problem, until the one time it hit fast and hard, so badly that I went to the doctor and got the “oh that’s the weight” spiel.

            No, it was actually the massive respiratory infection hitting my system, as I discovered when I woke up at 2 in the morning unable to catch my breath, my lips blue, had to get to the A&E in the regional hospital, and they put me on oxygen until I stopped being leaden purple in the face and my blood oxygen levels got back up to something approaching normal.

            So you know, apples and oranges.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Most bad things in life have multiple causes. Many fat people have an unfortunate tendency to downplay or ignore the role their obesity plays in various of their ailments.

            As I mentioned, obesity aggravates almost every health condition from head to toe. But with knees, ankles, and lungs, it’s especially obvious.

            Everyone gets upper respiratory infections now and then; being fat makes the consequences much worse.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @ Progressive Reformation:

            Yes, yes, some people have real serious conditions which make it extremely hard for them to lose weight; but the typical overweight person doesn’t.

            Um, how do you know that? It seems to me being overweight either indicates or is itself a serious condition which makes it extremely hard to lose weight. As evidence, I point to the fact that people who try to lose a clinically significant amount of weight and keep it off almost invariably fail, no matter what method they use.

            The standard advice doesn’t work for most people. About the only thing that does work is getting a stomach-shrinking or stomach-restricting operation. If you’re only moderately overweight, what doctors have to offer is advice that invariably doesn’t work (or doesn’t work for long) but has the benefit of making the doctors feel better that, hey, at least they tried!

          • fortaleza84 says:

            As evidence, I point to the fact that people who try to lose a clinically significant amount of weight and keep it off almost invariably fail, no matter what method they use.

            I’m pretty skeptical of this claim. I know a number of people who lost significant weight and kept it off, including myself.

            I think that the scientific studies which say otherwise are, generally speaking, either (1) old; or (2) based on the “hard cases.” Why does the age of the study matter? Because until 20 or 30 years ago, obesity was much less common and therefore it was more likely there was something seriously wrong with any given fat person. I think these are the sort of people who tend to end up in studies on diet and weight loss.

            Unfortunately, there are a lot of people on the internet promoting the idea that successful weight loss is essentially impossible.

          • Progressive Reformation says:

            @ Glen Raphael

            As fortaleza84 points out, your comment about people “invariably failing” to lose weight does not track. I have lost weight and though I’ve gained some back since then, it’s not nearly the same as it was before. It was a matter of watching what I ate and exercising regularly, which, while not easy, was rather straightforward. I also know plenty of other people who’ve achieved the same feat with the same method, “invariable” failure be damned.

            And to answer your question: it is quite easy to know that the average obese / overweight person is not that way because of impossible-to-overcome genetic conditions. The reasoning is simple. American obesity rates more than doubled from 1975 to 2000. Because this is such a dramatic increase in such a short span of time (one generation), genetic causes are ruled out. Therefore, it has some other cause – that is, changes in habits, lifestyle, diet, etc. – all of which are firmly within personal control.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            The clinically significant part of my claim was important. Lots of people can by sheer effort of will lose 10 or 20 pounds. But that doesn’t scale to losing enough weight to make a significant difference in outcomes. And heck, by chance a few will lose more than that via their own eclectic methods and for their own eclectic reasons but saying “…so we should do what those guys did!” is like suggesting winning the lottery or being somebody who bought bitcoins in the 1990s as an investment strategy.

            What we want is a strategy which, when followed, will reliably turn an obese person into a not-overweight person and keep them in that state for at least 3 years. As near as I can tell, no such strategy is known to exist and every such strategy when tested has failed the test.


            I think that the scientific studies which say otherwise are, generally speaking, either (1) old; or (2) based on the “hard cases.” Why does the age of the study matter? Because until 20 or 30 years ago, obesity was much less common and therefore it was more likely there was something seriously wrong with any given fat person. I think these are the sort of people who tend to end up in studies on diet and weight loss.

            Okay, so…what are the recent studies which you find more convincing?

            @Progressive Reformation:

            American obesity rates more than doubled from 1975 to 2000. Because this is such a dramatic increase in such a short span of time (one generation), genetic causes are ruled out. Therefore, it has some other cause – that is, changes in habits, lifestyle, diet, etc. – all of which are firmly within personal control.

            That logic doesn’t work; the best you can conclude from that evidence is that it may be possible to address the problem in future generations, once we figure out what the cause was and – assuming it’s fixable at all – fix it. That still doesn’t means we can address the problem in the current generation.

            For instance, suppose a million Americans went to war and lost a leg in combat. Knowing that genetic causes are ruled out and thus it has some other cause doesn’t help regrow any of those lost legs; they’re gone. Some metabolic changes aren’t reliably reversible; getting really fat shows signs of being among them.

            I’ve likely been reading more Megan McArdle than you have. Perhaps start with Thining Thin and the column it’s following up on, America’s Moral Panic Over Obesity.

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            The process of gaining weight is gradual, so even if it is impossible to lose weight, stabilizing can be beneficial. Even if you have lost one leg, it’s better not to lose another.

            Basically, I think that two reasonable arguments can be made (that I do not necessarily agree with):
            1. Losing weight is impossible.
            2. Losing or stabilizing weight is due to factors outside of the control of the person

            If (1) is true, then this suggests prevention, including preventing those who are already overweight from gaining more.

            If (2) is true, then this suggests that we need a government intervention, rather than individual behavior change.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            Okay, so…what are the recent studies which you find more convincing?

            None, because I haven’t looked at the scientific literature. I am going by simple observation. I know numerous people who have lost significant weight (40+ pounds) and kept it off.

      • rlms says:

        I think I remember reading in an old SSC post that sometimes doctors suggesting people lose weight does actually work sometimes (or it might have been telling alcoholics to stop drinking, but I expect the same would apply to obesity). So to an extent they have an ethical duty to tell people to lose weight, even if it often just annoys the patient, since there is a possible upside.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          My doctor told me to lose weight and it was pretty helpful. For one thing, I hadn’t realized just how fat I’d been getting. For another, saying “my doctor told me to lose weight” is a good way to deal with people who try to push unhealthy foods on you.

          • engleberg says:

            yeah, my doctor told me I was obese a couple months ago and I stopped drinking beer and switched to Jack Daniels. Lost twenty pounds.

    • alicorn says:

      I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate that this would turn into Every Thread About Fatness And Doctors Ever.

  2. Seanny123 says:

    I’m a Master’s student in Systems Design Engineering from Canada and I need a job. I’m pretty good at Machine Learning, writing code for large software projects and making visualizations, but I’d rather not work for a finance or ad company. Advice on how to make my resume less horrible and tips on prospective jobs would be greatly appreciated.

    • yodelyak says:

      Others will give you better advice. Overall, very good, fits most all the things the Ivy league taught me about good resume design (e.g. active verbs after bullet points, don’t be modest, simple language.) The education section seems weird, the way it’s tiered. Maybe drop having sub-sections? I mean, make “education” just list your actual degree experiences, and let publications and awards be their own, free-standing sections, rather than having an “academic qualifications” sub-section that’s part of a larger “education” section? The other main thing is it’s a lot of work to assemble a chronology of your experience–if you can re-arrange so there’s a way I can move my finger linearly up or down the page and see all the date ranges for all your experiences, in order, or so it’s closer to that, that would increase readability and make it more likely that the person who re-scans this right before interviewing you doesn’t waste half your interview time re-figuring out what it was on your resume that they liked. Minor point, you use italics in your “hobbies” section, but not elsewhere. Be consistent. As is, it’s nice, and the light use of color seems to me not too noisy. (IMHO, usually people who let themselves use color or gray scale use too much variety, and it becomes distracting.)

    • oldman says:

      Hi Seanny123,
      I don’t work in software development – but I do work in recruiting for an MBB consultancy, so I think I can give some good overall CV advice.

      Tip #1: Show don’t tell
      When I’m reading a CV I’m looking for something that impresses. You have “mastered Python” and “Created a multi-year research plan” – however I don’t know if you’ve done either of these things better than anyone else. Could you instead write: “Created a multi-year research plan for multi-modal emotion detection achieving a success rate of x%, a y% improvement on pre-existing algorithms” OR “as hands-on experience with Computer Vision achieving -insert impressive thing here-

      Tip #2: Keep it simple
      When I look at your work experience, it looks like you have the same work experience twice? Is this two different projects with one employer? Either way things like this would confuse me when scanning your CV. Whatever is going on, make it clearer.

      Tip #3: Tailor to job description
      I am speculating here, this one might be way off: Most jobs seem to say “academic credential x as a minimum” – if you are applying to one of those jobs – the fact that you meet that criteria should be the first thing a recruiter reads underneath the “academic qualification” heading.

      My final bit of advice is way harder for me to substantiate – but I would use a darker shade of green. Something about the brightness doesn’t shout “serious professional”. I am considerably less confident on this final point.

      • Seanny123 says:

        Thank you for your valuable feedback.

        #1 You’re totally right. I messed up the bullet-point ordering on the first position. The last bullet point is supposed to emphasize “made a component that allowed for things previously impossible!” but it should be first. I’m also being vague because of a NDA, so I’ll email my supervisor asking about how specific I can be.

        #2 I’ll think of a way to differentiate those positions.

        #3 I do actually have multiple versions of my resume! You’re looking at the more academic/research focused one. I also have one for software engineering.

    • johnswentworth says:

      Are you looking to do more ML/researchy things, or are you open to vanilla software engineering as well?

    • temujin9 says:

      A couple of questions:
      1) Are you interested in gig freelancing, or are you focused on full-time employment?
      2) Are you comfortable with telecommuting?
      3) If so, what rate would you want (on 1099)?

      I run a software consultancy which may have some strong uses for Deep Learning, and I’d love to get some well-qualified ML / DL people in my bullpen for such an eventuality. Feel free to send me your answers privately (temujin9@greenfieldguild.com), if you’d prefer.

      (And if not, you should look at the https://intelligence.org/2017/12/12/ml-living-library/ opportunity, down the thread, instead.)

    • cassander says:

      That’s definitely not horrible. I’ve seen much worse. Note, the following advice is for non-academic jobs. I know nothing about academic job searching.

      ditch the hobbies section, you have enough actual material you don’t need them.

      A little bit of nice formatting makes you stand out, but I’d use more boring colors.

      your work experience needs start years. Work experience is the thing most people will care most about, so fill in that section and eliminate as many gaps as possible. Put some of your extra-curricular and research activities in there if you can honestly describe them as work experience.

      I agree with yodelyak that your education section is weird. Have an education section with degrees and awards and a publications section.

      oldman’s advice on show don’t tell is good.

      • Seanny123 says:

        I have no idea how I haven’t noticed my employment periods did not have years. Thanks for catching that. I’ll think carefully about how to include your other comments.

    • Noumenon72 says:

      Why would someone with all that impressive-sounding machine learning experience put the vague “Mastered Python” as their *first* qualification? And then not back it up by never referring to Python again? The machine learning stuff also makes it unnecessary to mention “able to apply theoretical knowledge” — it *demonstrates* it.

      The Master’s Thesis section hurts you in my reading. Towers of Hanoi is a first-year-programming project. Give it an abstract-sounding name like “blocked destination algorithm churning” or something. Saying what you “plan” to do makes it sound like you don’t have things you actually did. And listing it before it’s done kind of makes it sound like you’re dropping out (maybe that’s normal for grad school, I’ve sure never hired anybody).

      The Software Carpentry entry doesn’t do anything the Python Workshop doesn’t do better. The workshop is great, though. Shows soft skills, passion, fundraising, public relations site. All kinds of stuff your normal candidate might not have. All of your willingness to share public links to things shows you’re proud of what you’ve done. I like that.

      • Seanny123 says:

        Oh jeez, the Master’s thesis didn’t use an action verb and I’ve never noticed! I’ll fix that and make sure to note that Nengo, Keras and Tensorflow are all Python libraries.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    Some people have suggested that this is an appropriate venue to once again mention the SSC Podcast. With Scott’s permission I’ve been recording his posts and pushing them out via a podcast feed. I like to think of it as SSC the audiobook.

    RSS Feed

    Also I plan to go back and do some of the “classics” I’ll probably start with Meditations on Moloch in the next week or so, but after that I’m open to requests.

  4. yodelyak says:

    You: someone in need of a political consultant.

    Me: A top student from an Ivy league college, with an Econ degree, six cycles of progressively more responsible campaign experience, a law degree, and sufficiently small bank account/ego that I’ll talk to you about your campaign, or other political project, for $30/hour. Longtime SSC commenter (and candidate for Stanislaus District Attorney) JRM will give me a good reference, if that means something to you. My handle at gmail will get you to me. I am gray tribe, and prefer to decide who I like on a case-by-case basis. If it helps you know if you can work with me, there are sometimes red-team folks I like, and there are sometimes blue-team folks I dislike, but I historically have worked for blue team candidates.

  5. Andrew Hunter says:

    If anyone knows a general practitioner in Seattle who:
    – is open to patient input, i.e. believes me when I look up medical data about myself and accepts that I might understand it / want to try something
    – data driven / open to extensive testing
    – non-normie-friendly

    let me know. Despite the slightly woo-ish feeling I get, I’m strongly considering naturopaths/functional medicine types, since many of them seem to actually look at wellness, supplementation, etc, rather just assuming everyone has a standard easy problem, so those are fine suggestions.

    Email if you don’t want to make your medical life public. com dot gmail at andrewhhunter (note the funky spelling from my middle initial.)

    • Deiseach says:

      a general practitioner … who:
      – is open to patient input, i.e. believes me when I look up medical data about myself and accepts that I might understand it / want to try something

      In the general vein of complaining about doctors, good luck with that one! The Archangel Raphael himself would get the “just because you looked your symptoms up on the Internet does not make you medically qualified, you know, and besides I’m the expert here, so you can either shut up and listen or walk out that door” treatment.

      I know they don’t want to panic patients unnecessarily, but I do wish they’d treat you with some honesty; don’t fake-laugh about “no no no this isn’t cancer” when I can damn well tell by your demeanour the first thing that popped into your head when I described the symptoms was “oh shit this could be cancer” because I’ll just go home, look it up on the Internet, and see “yep if someone meeting these criteria describes those symptoms, it could be cancer”.

      (It wasn’t cancer, which I already knew for reasons, and I know you didn’t want to raise the spectre of cancer because you were afraid of causing a middle-aged woman of extremely large size to have a fit of hysterics in your surgery, but honestly doctor you could have simply said “I want to do this procedure to rule out cancer” instead of treating me like I was too dumb to recognise an “oh shit” expression when I saw one on your phizz).

      • Migratory says:

        To be fair, the assumption that a doctor’s patients are going down a weird rabbit hole is a fairly safe one. Outside view and all that. I think it’s reasonable that you would have to prove yourself to them, regardless of how frustrating it may be for you. A doctor who doesn’t start out distrustful of their patient’s theories is going to waste a lot of time.

  6. Daniel Frank says:

    Any former lawyers on here (or practicing lawyers thinking about getting out)?

    I’m a young lawyer trying to determine the possible pathways ahead of me. It would be helpful to learn from the experiences of other likeminded people.

    • yodelyak says:

      Seconded! Just passed the bar in OR, lately been reading everything I can about career alternatives for JDs.

    • Brad says:

      Former lawyer here. I’m a programmer now. Law degree is a liability; it’s an awkward question in every interview.

      Not sure what a can tell you, but I’m happy to answer whatever I can.

      • yodelyak says:

        Any lawyers out there working in the intersection of lawyering and programming or analytics or etc.?

        e.g. Ravel Law or RocketLawyer or Recommind?

        If I’ve got the law degree, and am willing to invest in some other add-on skill… what is the skill I am missing?

        • jonatankilhamn says:

          I really can’t endorse them as everything I know is from a girlfriend of mine who’s friend with some of the people involved, but there’s a very cool startup called Legalese that might be interesting. Again, the only judgment I’ve heard from my gf is that they are good at selling their idea, so they have secured a lot of funding. I’m probably anti-selling them by saying that, though, so research for yourself if it sounds interesting. It’s some Economy 2.0 shit.

        • Reasoner says:

          FWIW, there’s a company called Everlaw whose office is just a few blocks away from CFAR/MIRI in Berkeley:


    • commenter#1 says:

      One of my best friends spent a year practicing law, hated it, and now is in finance. He parlayed his law degree and experience writing legal briefs into becoming a mutual fund analyst (thinking logically, making concise clear arguments, reading/researching lots of data). He’s since branched off into a different aspect of finance and makes zero use of his law degree.

      If you don’t want to do law, reframe your core skillset as synthesizing large quantities of data and turning it into persuasive writing. That’s applicable to a whole host of careers!

      • Dragor says:

        I have been curious as to how to parlay my midgrade liberal arts degree into something more profitable than tutoring. For the first time I feel I understand a) vaguely how I might do that b) how my friend went from a liberal arts degree to finance (other than his father having ran a bank).

        • commenter#1 says:

          Finance is always looking for smart and creative people. Only a minority of my friends from undergrad that went to Wall Street majored in Econ/Finance. If you missed out on the college recruitment pipeline, the next best way is through networking and taking related coursework to show dedication and interest.

          For example: outside of NYC, there are plenty of regional real estate acquisition/management firms that are looking for smart people. You’ll need to show that you know your way around Excel and that you speak the lingo. Plenty of free and paid online resources.

    • Samo says:

      I am currently in a top 15 business school and there are a few lawyers here with me who are looking to switch careers. Additionally, I have a buddy about to graduate from Stanford law who is considering recruiting for Big Three consulting companies, investment banking, and tech product manager. I’d be happy to talk more about this.

    • Mark Atwood says:

      Have you considered open source law?

      I do open source policy, compliance, and community management, so I am always working with lawyers inside my own employer, and with other companies lawyers, and *everyone* is always looking for lawyers who know corp IP law and who know how open source licenses work, instead of just treating them as a threat, as a menace, or as a pot to steal from and then piss in.

      • mindspillage says:

        This is my field also, and it is satisfying to me to use law to make it easier to collaborate rather than harder. Though I can’t say there are *that* many openings, depending on what you want to do.

        (Mark, I am pretty sure we’ve met at some conference or another; this is Kat Walsh.)

    • Rick Hull says:


      You should consider tech startups, perhaps as a business-minded cofounder. There are a million and one legal concerns for startups — that don’t necessarily require a high-powered general counsel, at least until after the Series A. I have a particular startup idea in mind, for which I can handle the technical aspect, but I would need a cofounder with significant legal experience, if not a law degree. Ping me at first.last (username) on gmail. (Yes, it’s the simple, straightforward address you would imagine).

    • dockovich says:

      I’m a former lawyer, I last just over two years doing Corporate tax law in Boston. Hated every single second of it.

      I left to work at a wealth management firm, which wasn’t awesome, but much better than before. I was sitting down with wealthy families and talking about their money. It’s not as bad as it sounds, you meet A LOT of interesting people, and 99% of them are “self made” ie their money wasn’t inherited, etc. Entrepreneurs, executives, etc.

      Three years into that I left to build my own book of financial planning clients, which I’ve been doing for two years. Now I work with more regular people–mostly explaining the important metrics around retirement plans. It appeals to the part of my brain that liked law school, but I have a flexible schedule and plenty of time to play with my two young kids.

      I saw very early on that lawyering would work if I (1) wanted to work 7 days per week, (2) wanted to be a prosecutor, or (3) wanted to practice a little law niche in a suburban office somewhere. Other than that my law school colleagues are slogging away as 9-5 in house lawyer #956 at [insert publicly traded corporation] with various levels of economic fulfillment.

  7. Daniel Frank says:

    If anybody on here knows someone who works at Sidewalk Labs, could you please let me know (either on here, or my email is accessible through my site)

  8. WashedOut says:

    My side-hobby is making music scores and soundtracks for short film and videogames at a fraction of the cost of professionals. As such I am happy to work on student projects and ‘break-out’ projects with zero budget.
    Contact me a vilemasquemedia[at]gmail.com

    • GranderDelusion says:

      Do you have an online portfolio available?

      • WashedOut says:

        Not for my soundtrack work as yet, as normally i get engaged by word of mouth and this suits me. If you would like to request a demo i would be happy to send you something that fits your brief. Thanks!

  9. losethedebate says:

    Final year philosophy undergraduate looking for (tips regarding) gap year opportunities for next year (applying to philosophy PhD programs after that). I know opportunities actually related to philosophy are a long shot, but if anybody has any ideas or tips they would be greatly appreciated. Location somewhat flexible, best is Philly area/ohio/east coast in that order. Can also speak fluent German and would be open to opportunities using that (and opportunities in Germany).

    ETA: “and opportunities in Germany”

    • Irein says:

      Depending on what period of philosophy you’re interested in, you might want to learn some Latin/Ancient Greek. Since you’re near Philly, Penn offers accelerated ancient language courses over the summer, so you could be reading Plato by August.

    • JohnBuridan says:

      What’s your specialty/future area of expertise going to be in?

    • Samo says:

      Teaching English in Japan, Korea, or China is a great opportunity.

      • dank says:

        I echo this advice. Go abroad and experience as much as possible that’s outside your normal milieu.

        • ajar says:

          I echo this suggestion as well. Travel, hitchhike, meet people you otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to, put yourself into novel situations, learn through observation and direct experience about life and yourself. Personally, I prefer going nomadic – but if earning some money is a need for you teaching English abroad is a good option for changing your scenery. However you’d have to make a greater effort to leave your comfort zone.

  10. ParryHotter says:

    I put together a detailed paper examining the issue of public trust in the scientific community, and would love to hear any sort of feedback, positive and negative, on its contents. It can be read here. Feel free to comment here or leave comments on the doc itself.

    I would love for it to eventually get a wider readership, but I first want to expose it to as many eyeballs as possible to suss out any obvious flaws or errors in my argument. I’m also interested in further examples that might lend support to my case, if you can think of any.

    (I posted this a few months back, but I didn’t get much feedback then since it was at the end of hundreds of other comments, so I figured I’d try again now, since I’m somewhat early to the party.

    • yodelyak says:

      As you note, it’s descriptive, not proscriptive. The result is, it’s not likely to have “obvious flaws or errors” in argument, so much as to just be a lot of work to read and digest. Maybe try using the work you’ve done to make a concrete argument for a specific change by a specific actor (e.g. Nature should stop accepting papers that don’t pre-register), that people can disagree with, and then see if you can get some smart people to engage with your idea?

    • Matty Wacksen says:

      Whenever I’m asked to proof-read anything I tend to become very nit-picky. So I apologize in advance.

      You refer to what you’ve written as a “paper”, so I’m assuming you want it to look something like a scientific paper. This requires latex (the type-setting software). In my field (mathematics/computer-science) people don’t take things written in anything else seriously. Deciding whether a paper is worth reading is often a split-second decision made after reading some of the abstract. There are a lot of papers out there, and only so much time. If someone is not using latex, this suggests they are not familiar with the norms scientific community of the field, which usually implies it is safe to ignore their work.

      Related point: an abstract would be nice. Also, if you want to make it look more like a scientific paper: never use first person singular pronouns (instead: “the author”), keep mentions of personal experience to a minimum. Replace 90% of your current introduction with a summary of each of the other sections. One should be able to roughly know what a paper contains just from reading the Introduction. So mention each of the sections in the introduction, with a brief sentence about what the section is about.

      As for the actual content: I disagree with your thesis that public trust in science is not high enough. Public trust in science is far too high as it is. People who don’t understand the science (or limitations of said science) blindly believe that science is that which supports their point of view, and that scientists are those people who actually understand life, the universe and everything (talk to any scientist and see how they feel about that). I would be happy if public trust in science eroded some more, and people started to actually think about science themselves. Some of the areas you mention (GMOs, climate science, energy policy) are prime examples of areas where I would be happy if “scientists support vague statement X” were no longer an acceptable argument in the circles I’m part of.

      Related note: ” I’m fascinated by it all, and love reading about science in all its forms” – I suspect you don’t read the actual science, but only popular articles about science. Ask any scientist who has ever published anything that has been reported on by the media and they will tell you that these popular articles are wildly inaccurate, and often have little to do with the actual research itself.

      “Nor am I trying to cast aspersions upon the myriad researchers toiling away in their labs or in the field who are attempting the most honest inquiry of reality one can reasonably muster.” – This sentence contains far too much trust in science/scientists already. Talk to any scientist and see how they feel. Also, you praise science far too much so that it comes across like you’re trying to signal that you’re not one of “them” (people who don’t believe in science).

      “why scientists seem to be facing an ever-increasing chorus of opponents” – where I live (somewhere in Eurpoe), scientists have to regularly find new ways to spend money because if they don’t use their budgets they get cut the next year. It doesn’t sound like this ever-increasing chorus of opponents is very effective, given that the scientists have more money than they can spend.

      ” maybe slightly better informed than the average consumer of pop culture.” – Popular articles about science *are* pop-culture.

      In general, the style seems very informal, and I’m not sure who the intended audience is – if it is scientists, then an informal style may be off-putting. If it is non-believers in science – maybe don’t put them down as often. If it’s people like yourself – ask yourself what parts of the essay you yourself would find useful to read, and then make the whole essay more like those parts.

      All in all, an interesting essay! I think it raises some good points.

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      I’m going to be doing a PhD in this topic pretty soon (my future supervisor is an author of “The natural selection of bad science”).

      What I would say:

      – The writing/formatting is better than I was led to believe from Matty Wacksen. LaTeX is not required outside of math/computer science.

      – This reads like a review of popular articles on this topic. You have certainly read a lot — which is good — but it’s largely from popular articles. As such, you have picked up some of the same issues as you criticize. In particular, it feels a bit shallow (I’ll identify further related literature in a second) and biased towards sensationalism.
      – It is very much worth considering the audience you’re aiming for. If it’s a scientific one, an abstract is essential, and so is removing the personal narrative. If it’s a popular audience, the issue is attention span & readability. What I think this piece does very well is synthesize a lot of popular articles — a good, thorough primer for a lay audience looking to get greater depth. Unfortunately, such people are fairly rare. I think they’re more prevalent on SSC, but I think you’d find it almost impossible to publish this anywhere other than a blog without serious revisions.

      – Your reading has been severely limited by lack of attention to social sciences. In particular, there’s a field of science communication studies; the recent Sackler Colloquium gathered much of the field in one place. There’s tremendous diversity in quality & approaches to how the media covers science; just pushing the cynical view using two comics as footnotes won’t cut it. In particular, it’s the social sciences that have more tools & interest in “the issue of public trust in the scientific community”, so I’m disappointed that your engagement with that literature is so shallow.

      – For example, one common topic in science communication is the “deficit model”: the idea that all people are missing is information, so if we give them the facts about climate change/vaccines/etc they’ll change their minds. This is rarely an explicit assumption, since it’s so obviously wrong, but implicitly underlies too many attempts to communicate science and frustrations as to why that’s not working. The findings are that differences in opinion generally come from different values, and that’s what we have to work with.

      – Similarly, modern philosophers of science all agree that science is not value-free. This isn’t just postmodernist BS. It’s a conversation about in what ways science depends on values (e.g. acceptable standards of evidence & risk thresholds for human health vs other situations), and which sorts of values are acceptable and which are not. Heather Douglas has a good book on this topic.

      That’s my initially-off-the-cuff-but-then-I-kept-writing comment. I don’t want to appear too negative — you’ve done a lot of work, and have a pretty good understanding of the issues. But I will say it looks like you’ve been working much too much in isolation. I hope you find a community to work in. Email me if you want! goodtownr /\at/\ gmail

      • ParryHotter says:

        > …it’s largely from popular articles…

        Sorry, but I don’t think that’s correct. I have as many references to professional sources like The Lancet, Nature, PLoS, JAMA, and the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine as I do to The NY Times, Slate, and Vox.

        To be sure I wasn’t totally off with that off-the-cuff assertion, I just counted up the footnotes on the first 7 pages, and I see over 25 out of 40 references are to professional industry-related journals like Nature and Science.

        • maybe_slytherin says:

          Ok, I will grant that there are more scientific references in that section than I had thought. Though some of them are editorials, opinion pieces, or news features in professional sources, rather than studies.

          However, performing a similar count from pages 16 through 20, I counted 15/64 references to professional scientific journals, so the ratio is reversed.

          This may just reflect that the conversations about impact factor and p-hacking are more technical & have much narrower appeal than those about diet or medicine.

          But in the end, this debate only matters to the extent that it helps other people take you more or less seriously. And currently, I think the level of depth is fine for a lay audience but not deep enough for a scientific one.

    • Clegg says:

      Here is a broad comment. From what I’ve read, assuming you make the argument you’re making very well, I would say you’re still missing the most important point. When science is done well, it is good at answering specific, well-defined questions. Public policy debates are often framed in the media as debates about such questions, and while they sometimes are, they often are not. A few examples:

      Vaccines. The scientific questions about the efficacy and risks of vaccines are well defined, and in this case the public debate can mostly be reduced to these two questions. So there is a straightforward path from science to policy.

      Taxes. I am an economist and have read several detailed analyses of the current tax plan, as well as many articles, blog posts, and op-eds by economists and non-economists about the plan. Many articles about the plan completely ignore the purpose of the proposed reform, and focus on irrelevant economic (scientific) debates about Keynesian multipliers and such. The problems you describe certainly apply to empirical business cycle macroeconomics, but they miss the biggest problem with the public’s understanding of the economics of taxes.

      Climate change. John Cochrane had an interesting op-ed in the WSJ over the summer about the problems with the way climate science gets debated these days. His point was that few of the proposed policy prescriptions for dealing with climate change are scientifically valid means of addressing the scientific consensus on likely impacts of climate change. However, he makes a mistake by calling out “reduced gender inequality & marginalization in other forms” as an example of something that is “not scientifically valid, cost-benefit-tested policies to cool the planet.” But in fact reduced gender inequality has been scientifically proven to reduce fertility rates, which does reduce energy consumption and environmental degradation otherwise. This is somewhat politically incorrect, so people fighting climate change don’t emphasize it, but it is not actually what Cochrane claims, “symbolic, ineffective, political grab-bag policies.”

      • ParryHotter says:

        Thank you to the 4 commenters above (and those who commented on the doc itself) for the feedback. Just to answer one common question I get: who is the audience?

        Honestly, it wasn’t written with any specific audience in mind. It came about because it’s a topic I find interesting, and after reading a lot on it, I started consolidating all the different pieces of the issue together so that when I talk about it with others, I’d be able to have an organized and coherent presentation about the topic, and then I just figured, instead of just a rough outline, why not flesh it out into a full paper? That’s basically how it evolved. It was also motivated by the oft seen (yet, erroneous IMHO) categorization of people who don’t trust science as being unreasonable cavemen; I don’t think that’s a fair, or helpful, reaction to the distrust people have, and I think it’s important to properly understand that distrust when trying to counter it.

        I recognize that the paper is obviously way too long for the typical reader of popular articles (SSC readers excluded), but I feel that cutting it down would weaken the argument being proposed, and I’m reluctant to do it. Every time I’ve had a discussion about the subject with a colleague and offered some examples, the response is always, “a few examples don’t prove anything.” So I feel it necessary to bring as many examples as possible in order that people not be so casually dismissive. Yet, I do understand that while doing so bolsters the soundness of my argument, it also makes the piece somewhat less readable.

        So no intended audience other than people who care about improving the public’s acceptance of science, and for now, I basically just pass it around to anyone who doesn’t mind going very in-depth on an issue, whether that be science professionals or everyday laypeople.

        • Aapje says:

          You might want to split it up into several papers/articles, perhaps with a high level central paper. Then there is both an accessible overview, but also the opportunity for readers to dig deeper into a specific issue you identify.

        • a reader says:

          If you want to publish it for a larger (lay) audience, maybe you should try at Quillette (pitch at quillette,com), they seem interested in this subject – they already had articles like “Why Citing a Scientific Study Does Not Finish An Argument”. They publish popular science articles, often on controversial subjects, and their target seems to be “the Grey Tribe”.

  11. reallyeli says:

    The Boston-area startup I work for (Shearwater) is hiring software engineer #3. We help universities run effective + data-driven mentorship programs. The end goal is to reduce the number of students who drop out of college.

    We went through Techstars in 2015.

    We’re a small team (15 people overall, hiring our 3rd engineer with a 4th coming soon after) so the expected impact is high relative to other software engineering jobs — both in terms of your impact on the outside world, through your work, and your impact on our engineering culture and processes. Here’s a bit about our engineering culture: https://shearwaterintl.com/engineering/.

    We don’t require that you already know the technologies we use (Ruby on Rails, Ember.js) because we want to find the best candidates possible, and we think that means discarding as many shibboleths as we can. To that end, we have no hard requirements except for a willingness to be physically based in our office in downtown Boston.

    If you’re interested, send me a message at eli@shearwaterintl.com and mention that you came from SSC.

  12. mlchild says:

    SSC fan here, looking to hire node.js developers or game designers for the leading Alexa/Google Home entertainment software company. Bay Area, full-time, competitive everything. Max at volleythat dot com

  13. Johnwbh says:


    Hey folks. I live in Beijing an interested in meeting other people in the area. I don’t think there’s a SSC or rationalist diaspora group but there’s a small EA Group here who meets occasionally, add me on wechat and I can add you to it. (Username is the same as above).

    I’m also currently looking for a new job, if you know of anything suitable for a British philosophy graduate with teaching, management and research experience get in touch.

    Non China people
    If you have any questions about what day to day life is actually like living here feel free to ask them. My experiences as a n expat won’t be representative but I can answer most things.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you have any questions about what day to day life is actually like living here feel free to ask them. My experiences as a n expat won’t be representative but I can answer most things.

      Can you use IRC from China?

      • Johnwbh says:

        I think you can but its extremely uncommon. Wechat is the most popular method of communication by a mile (above email, phone and SMS). Some people also use discord or slack.

    • JohnBuridan says:

      What are the major political questions people in Beijing are interested in? What are the major schools of thought concerning the United States?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I’d be interested in a general slice of life, especially comparing Beijing to other major cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong or Chengdu.

      Almost everyone I know from China is from the south: at best we have a few southerners who went to Tsinghua University. So most of what I know about Beijing and the north in general is very vague. It’s hard to figure out what’s real and what’s narrative without having gone there myself.

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      Is there any concern, even on the level of sci-fi tropes, about AI risk in China?

      I ask because I saw this tweet, commenting on a Wired story of Baidu’s somewhat desperate efforts to become an AI leader — and the widespread lack of concern that anything can go wrong.

      Combined with massive biometrics efforts, this seems like a spectrum that ranges from dystopian to world-ending.

      How concerned are you about AI risk in China? How effective do you think MIRI or other organizations could be in warning about potential existential risks?

    • Reasoner says:

      Is xenophobia towards european expats on the rise in China?

  14. romeostevens says:

    MealSquares! The only part of this complete breakfast accused of immanetizing the eschaton!

    • Berna says:

      So when can I buy these in the Netherlands? (And why are meal replacements always sweet? I want food, not candy.)

      • gbear605 says:

        Don’t worry, you’re not going to accuse MealSquares of being sweet. They have a little dark chocolate, but they’re definitely not like candy.

        Unfortunately, currently MealSquares can only be bought online and they apparently don’t shit outside the US (https://www.mealsquares.com/faq.html).

      • Viliam says:

        And why are meal replacements always sweet?

        I suspect a combination of:

        a) horribly outdated but still very popular medical advice saying that you should eat a lot of sugar and avoid eating fat, because according to kabbalistic nutrition, eating fat makes you fat, while eating sugar makes you sweet.

        (This is less of a joke than I would wish. For example, Soylent is currently banned in Canada for not containing too much sugar. Yes, selling food not containing insane amounts of sugar can actually be considered a crime! Unlike selling foods containing insane amounts of sugar, which seems perfectly legal. Meanwhile, there is an epidemic of obesity which according to the food-industrial complex remains a complete mystery.)

        b) marketing incentives. Food with more sugar simply tastes better, unless it contains more sugar than you are used to, which would make you realize “ugh, this is actually just a lot of sugar”. So the optimal amount of sugar is probably just slightly below what an average customer would detect as “ugh, sugar”.

        Of course, when most producers follow this strategy, the customers become used to eating more sugar, which means the amount of sugar optimal from the marketing perspective gradually increases. Thus we sacrifice people’s health to Moloch, because if you don’t, your food factory gets outcompeted by the sweeter alternatives.

      • skef says:

        And why are meal replacements always sweet

        Sugar is quite effective at covering up or compensating for “off” flavors, which are a more likely problem in foods that are “constructed” to have a specific mix of nutrients.

    • watsonbladd says:

      Wait, when were Meal Squares accused of immanetizing the eschaton?

  15. vedevazz says:

    − MIRI’s 2017 Fundraiser is currently underway!

    − As described by Luke M, “Attractive job opening at MIRI: basically, read interesting ML papers, all day every day.”

  16. snazzybucket says:

    Not sure how much people on this blog care about fashion, but anyone here need help picking out a suit? I have a strong interest in suits and I’ve been giving advice to a few friends recently, so I’m wondering is “Suit Consultant” a fun side job for me.
    So to test the waters, if anyone needs to buy a suit for work or an event or something and has no idea where to start, hit me up on humphreys.a[at]gmail.com. No charge, just want to see what would be needed to make this a useful service to offer remotely, and ask people what it’s worth to them.

    • Mark Atwood says:

      Once you help your friend pick out a suit, where do you have them get them?

      I have a tailor, which is great for not being constrained by what the style of the day is, but it can lend itself to choice paralysis.

      • snazzybucket says:

        I normally send them to a made to measure place called Dolzer, I’ve got a few good suits from them. But if I had the money, and if my friends had the interest, I’d definitely say tailor.
        The choice paralysis is tough alright, I go blind after looking at patterns for 30 minutes. I normally have an idea days/weeks before going, and have a relatively specific plan by the time I’m there, so as to not be fully overwhelmed.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Do they also do shirts? How expensive are they?

          I’ve never been able to find well-fitting dress shirts; if the sleeves are long enough and the neck large enough, it always balloons out tremendously around my waist.

          • snazzybucket says:

            Yep, they are like 65e to 100e, something like that. I have the same same problem with sleeves never fitting, I’ve had luck with Zara shirts before, but the made to measure ones are sweet.

  17. Rebecca Friedman says:


    I am a freelance editor specializing primarily in fantasy and science fiction, but good for most types of fiction (the more of a genre I’ve read, the better I am; no sex scenes please, I’d be utterly useless, and I don’t read mysteries by desperately trying to solve them ahead of the detective, so I can critique all other aspects of your mystery but not that one; that said, I have no problems at all with stuff that doesn’t quite fit in any genre, or is generally strange – I enjoyed Unsong) and occasionally interesting non-fiction. My previous work includes fantasy, light romance, the variety of not-quite-fantasy where the geography and history are invented but no magic is present, superheroes, urban fantasy (you may be noticing a pattern here), military sci-fi, mysteries (usually fantasy mysteries), and “interesting nonfiction” (mostly my father’s books, that’s how I got started). Not all of this is published, but for some representative samples: Harald (see note about how I got started), Cantata (a really early one which I firmly recommend on its own merits), and Curveball (web serial superhero fiction, some of the editing I have done is in visible comments, though not all).

    My own website is here. To everyone on the last classified thread who told me that it was very messy and I should change it: Thank you for your feedback! Thank you especially to Nancy for the very specific comment on something I hadn’t thought of as a possible problem. I had various plans to act on your advice, and then multiple people responded to that ad at once and I decided that editing for them came first, so fair warning, it is still pretty amateurish. Maybe once work slows down! It does have all the prices listed, however – for the record, it’s currently $1-$4/500-word page depending on how much work is needed, with a five-free-pages offer for new clients so you know which of those prices applies and what you’ll be getting for it before you actually have to pay me anything – as well as my contact information.

    Prices will probably rise after the new year – people keep telling me they’re too low – so if you’re interested, this would be a great time to contact me. I won’t necessarily be able to get to new work immediately – I have preexisting pieces I’m working on, not to mention imminent family for some reason involving holidays – but pricing is set by when we agreed on the job, being waitlisted will not ever result in you being charged more.

    In somewhat related news: thank you again to everyone who contacted me last time, that was an amazingly successful ad.

  18. toastengineer says:

    So, uhh, I’m not actually 100% sure I’m gonna have anywhere to live in a few months; I’ve pretty much run out of family support. I’m kinda desperate for work so I’m trying every channel I possibly can.

    I’m a pretty experienced programmer, most of my experience in Python but I’m not tied down to any language or language family. I usually say I have about 7-8 years of experience but truthfully I don’t actually remember. Unfortunately I don’t really have any one big project to impress people with, when I was young I mostly just made games and addons for games and all my serious work was either “build this automation tool\website for m- actually never mind I don’t want it after all thanks anyway” or just simple web scrapers and stuff. I ran out of money before I could get my degree so I don’t have that either.

    Still, I have a decent-sized body of open source work that seems to mildly impress people and I’ve been told I interview well.

    I’m hoping for some variety of full-time position so but I’ll take contract work too. Don’t care about physical location; I could hop on a Greyhound to anywhere in the U.S. tomorrow morning. Having to emigrate would be a minus but I’d consider it. If you want to contact me directly my E-Mail address is just my username @ gmail.com.

    • maintain says:

      Do you have a resume online? I’m not hiring, but I think it could help you if people could see that. At the very least, people could give you advice on how to improve your resume.

      • toastengineer says:

        Yeah, I’ll blur out my address and name on my resume and put it up in a few hours.

        • Mark Atwood says:

          I don’t see the point in putting a postal address on a resume, I’ve not put it on mine for over two decades now.

          Just put “US citizen” or “US resident with $type visa”, as appropriate, and “able to immediately relocate”.

          Also, email me at mark.atwood@gmail.com

        • toastengineer says:

          Here’s the resume:

          I’m sure it’s terrible; I don’t really have anything that looks impressive on paper.

          • rlms says:

            Things I think are obvious improvements:
            If you were at college for a reasonable length of time, put down what you studied.

            Remove MS Office from skills and don’t end lines with etc.
            Cut Intellij, put git with command line skills.
            Probably remove the “some”s from your list of programming languages (I definitely understand the feeling of not wanting to seem overconfident in things you don’t have much experience with, but I think it’s worth being more confident than you currently are).
            Either cut “technical writing, documentation” or rework that part to say something substantial.

            Cut “team size” from projects.
            Rewrite your project descriptions to more actively refer to your contributions, either by saying “I developed…” etc. or by using the weird resume-only style of dropping pronouns (“Developed a foo to bar bazes. Used Amazon EC2 and the latest hot JavaScript framework to blah.” etc.).

            Possibly-pedantic word choice opinions:
            Call yourself a “software engineer”, “software developer” or just “programmer” rather than “computer programmer”. Cut “results-oriented and self-driven”. Replace the “7” with “seven” or rework sentence so it doesn’t start with a number.

    • Deiseach says:

      Tiny bit of advice: drop the part about “did work for friends”, “did this for relative” because that makes your experience sound like “amateur who did freebies for people too ignorant of the subject to know if it was good, bad or indifferent work”.

      Simply say “programming work for both individuals and small businesses” and “work for forestry business” (nobody needs to know it was your Uncle Joe’s wife’s cousin).

      Can’t advise too much on the college part because I never did college, but probably it would be better to say something like “completed two years of a three-year degree in Wrassling Cats at Pimento State” or whatever, with a vague allusion to why you didn’t complete it (“personal/family circumstances”) and “intend to complete degree within X years” (don’t say “when I’m not stony broke” because again, not their business and tells too much about you). If an interviewer wants to know “so why did you drop out” then tell them “ran out of money” but wait until it’s face-to-face (or over the phone or Skype or however it’s set up).

      And of course, like all resumes and CVs, turn your geese into swans when talking about experience, qualifications, what a stellar addition to any company you would be, etc. Don’t trowel it on too much, but don’t undersell yourself either!

      Good luck!

    • mwilykat says:

      You might want to try Triplebyte – I tried out their service and I was pretty impressed with it. I didn’t need a job at the time but they came up with a pretty good list of leads, and I think they’re probably a great resource if you have coding skills but a non-traditional background.

  19. Sniffnoy says:

    I’m looking for programming jobs at the moment. Background is primarily in math (in which I have a PhD — pure stuff, not applied); not much experience programming professionally (<1 year) but I’ve been programming in one form or another for my own purposes since I was a kid (on a much lesser scale, obviously, but still). Since people always ask about languages… for my own stuff I usually use C or Haskell (a big part of my thesis was algorithmic, I implemented it in Haskell); and profesionally I’ve used MUMPS, C#, Javascript. But, c’mon — I’m a smart guy, I understand programming, I’ll pick up anything you throw at me. And with my background in math I’m good at making sure truly every case is covered and at spotting edge cases before they become a problem.

    Also I realize like everything is web these days but I’m hoping to find something that avoids that; I guess that means I’m looking for what they call backend work. Basically — I like computation, taking a bunch of bytes and turning them into a specified other bunch of bytes. Precise things, where you can say for a fact whether you’ve gotten it right or not, you know? I am trying to avoid things that are too fuzzy, where correctness is a matter of guessing and judgment.

    Currently living in Ann Arbor but willing to relocate. If you think I’d be useful to you or you want to know more, let me know; email address is unygzna@hzvpu.rqh (rot13’d to stop spam).

    Alternatively, if you think you could use a mathematician (who to be clear has basically no knowledge of any applied math) for some other job, you can let me know about that as well!

    • magehat says:

      I don’t have any opportunities, but as a developer working in web I just wanted to say there is a lot more back-end potential at web companies than you might expect. I almost solely work on back end things, and even when I get assigned UI tasks, they are more in the ‘computation’ realm than design work. There is a lot of logic that goes into modern web applications that all happens behind the scenes.

      The important thing is to just read the job descriptions and be up-front in communicating what you want to work on. I’d also try to avoid small start-ups where you would be forced to wear a lot of hats by necessity. Not working in web is fine too, but deliberately avoiding it will cut out a lot of options, even if just for interviewing experience.

      Good luck!

    • Andrew Wilcox says:

      Precise things, where you can say for a fact whether you’ve gotten it right or not, you know?

      A thought, you might want to look into specialities where people care that code is 100% correct, such as security and safety.

      And, for especially important cases, how to go about formally proving a program correct (such as with https://coq.inria.fr/, https://www.key-project.org/ etc) is a mystery to many programmers, but I imagine someone with a strong math background might be able to pick it up easily.

    • Craig Falls says:

      If you haven’t already, try clicking the Sierpinski triangle in the right-side ads. OCaml is close enough to some mix of C and Haskell, right? We certainly care a lot about correctness, and only maybe 5% of our devs work on web-y stuff.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Hi, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll admit I had basically failed to consider Jane Street because I had thought of it purely in terms of trading. But, now that you point it out… anyway, I’ve put in for it, so thanks. 🙂

    • gph says:

      You might consider applying at Epic Systems in Madison, WI. They do EHR and use MUMPS extensively so that would be a big plus. The other reason I mention them is because I know someone currently working there as a software engineer who got hired without any programming experience and just a BS in Math. They’re hiring philosophy seems to be centered around bringing in people that have a lot of potential but maybe not much experience and then training them. Though I think part of that is because barely any experienced programmers out there have used MUMPS, so might as well get someone fresh and teach them.


      And they treat their employees pretty nice from what I hear. It’s still privately owned by the founder and she’s put billions of dollars into their campus. And since you’re already in Ann Arbor the Midwest winters don’t seem to be a deterrent 🙂

      • Sniffnoy says:

        That was my last job, I’m afraid! If the fit there is suspiciously good — where else does a guy with a mostly math background get experience with MUMPS? — that’s why. So, uh, not really an option. Thanks though!

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Indeed, saw it and the person behind it also contacted me! So yeah I put in for that. 🙂 Thanks though!

    • taktoa says:

      The startup I interned at last summer (and for which I’m going to work after graduating in May 2018) uses Haskell in production for packet analysis (e.g.: network intrusion detection) in corporate networks. Here‘s a link to the jobs listing if you’re interested. The packet analysis team is mostly people with strong math/logic backgrounds.

  20. jooyous says:

    HELLO we at SACRAMENTO, CA have a MEETUP and will put you on the EMAIL THREADS if you are interesting in eating crepes and talking about random stuff.

    • Rick Hull says:


    • Reasoner says:

      Where’s the call to action? What next step should I take if I live in Sacramento and I want to hear about meetups?

      (I don’t actually live in Sacramento, I’m just trying to help you out)

      • jooyous says:

        Reply to the comment with your email address! Alternatively, reply without an email and we’ll figure out who you should email and post THAT email address.

    • stoodfarback says:

      Howdy. I’m interested in meetups around Sacramento/Davis/Roseville. Please add me to the list, [my username]@gmail

    • lushdugong says:

      I am in Sacramento and wouldn’t mind getting more info on this. Who should I email?

      • stoodfarback says:

        Hey lushdugong,
        I’m acting as a courier since my email is already in this thread. Send me an email and I’ll forward it to the list. My address is [my username]@gmail.com
        Thanks, hope to see you at the meetup!

  21. OnionKnight says:

    If anyone on SSC is looking for housing in the Bay Area, I have a room available in my apartment in San Leandro. It’s a 3 bed / 2 bath, that comes with parking spaces and is about a 12 min walk to SL BART, door to platform. I share this apartment with another roommate and we are looking for someone to take the 3rd bedroom. Rent is $1050 (utils extra, about ~$50/month). Here’s a craigslist ad with more details and pics. You can follow up with the email in the craigslist ad and name drop SSC so I know where you are coming from.

    Alternatively if you are interested in a short-term stay we could setup an AirBnb arrangement.

    • martinkasakov says:

      Added value: according to the map in the craigslist link, the apartment is just across the street from San Leandro’s most excellent Mexican restaurant!

  22. a reader says:

    Do you know any sites that pay for articles and don’t require experience? Like Cracked and Listverse for example, but less picky.

    • instant says:

      What kind of articles do you like to write? Do you have a particular area? Do you want to do it on a commission basis or decide on your own topics?

      Would love to read a sample somewhere.

    • eclairsandsins says:

      Steemit is a blockchain-based social media site that rewards bloggers with cryptocurrency based on upvotes that are weighted in proportion to one’s stake in the network. You also get rewards for upvoting content that becomes popular in the future, and your upvote weight decays if you use it too frequently and regenerates over 24 hours. Anyone can post and upvote for free – rewards are paid for out of inflation, but if you stake your steem it doesn’t inflate, but it’s also harder to withdraw.

      I’ve used it for a few months and its okay as a social media site but perhaps not the best place to try to make money. Still you could try anyways

      • a reader says:

        Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll look at it – although the “cryptocurrency” and the “rewards for upvoting content that becomes popular in the future” seem quite weird: they motivate people to vote not what they really like but what they think the others like…

        I would prefer real money and a fixed price per article.

        • maybe_slytherin says:

          All paid writing is motivated by what you think others will like.

          My advice: learn to pitch articles. Editor’s care about your pitch more than your background, and pitches are hard. Look at The Open Network pitch database — it’s a great introduction to science writing.

          • a reader says:

            Thank you for your suggestion. The Open Notebook pitch database seems very interesting. I looked at some pitches and I found science writers who went to Greenland to write about viking settlements, to a “Mammoth Cave” to write about bats, even for an article about chili peppers someone went to Bolivia. I’m afraid I don’t stand a chance when compared to such people – I’m not an adventurer, I only explore the Internet.

      • Reasoner says:

        I’d be curious if someone could explain why Steemit is popular. From my point of view, almost nothing on the homepage looks interesting.

    • BeefSnakStikR says:

      I quite like /r/slavelabour. As long as you can respond to an ad quickly and write/proofread quickly, you can make about as much as you’d make doing minimum wage work.

      You won’t get a steady stream of jobs there, but writing on spec like you’re suggesting sounds awful to me. But that’s just me; I have a full time job and don’t really have the time to spend self-marketing/promoting or networking, so I don’t really care that I don’t get credited.

      If you don’t have any experience because you’re just starting out writing, and want to make a career out of writing, my advice is not the best option, I guess.

      • a reader says:

        Thank you for the suggestion. It’s seems something like Mechanical Turks on Amazon. I prefer writing on spec, writing about things that really interest me, but if that doesn’t work, I may change my mind.

        Yes, I have no experience (only writing on my own blogs, usually not in English, and some creative writing courses).

  23. jbombastor says:

    For anyone who enjoys a bit of arcade nostalgia with a modern feel, I have a computer game up: https://vici.itch.io/invasion

    (In the interest of maximising feedback, I have just changed it from “pay £1.99” to “free with a suggested donation of £1.99”. I’ll probably change it back after a few days.)

    For those of you who enjoy writing, I’m still running my motivational writing site: https://www.finaldeadline.co.uk

    Edit: oh, and a question: People have been talking about how suboptimal modern teaching is, and proposing various alternatives, for years and years. But does anyone know of a whole community devoted to actually discussing these strategies, sharing new ideas, sharing recent developments, etc.?

    • JohnBuridan says:

      No, I don’t. But I am always interested in such discussions. I work in an alternative high school, which only has a functioning campus 3 days a week. The other two days students work from home.

    • Viliam says:

      does anyone know of a whole community devoted to actually discussing [teaching] strategies, sharing new ideas, sharing recent developments, etc.?

      Not exactly what you want, but there is a wikipedia page about evidence-based education; maybe it contains some useful links or some keywords that could help you in search.

      I would love to read a report written by a reliable source about what works and what doesn’t in education.

      My favorite blog about education is Scenes From The Battleground. But that is not a community, only one (awesome) author. Again, maybe it contains some useful links.

  24. instant says:

    I’m building a simple website for everybody’s favourite yearly Prediction/Calibration exercise. SSC Example. Think Metaculus, but simpler and with the smaller time horizon of events that should resolve in the upcoming year.

    I want to use as many people’s input to collect a curated list of events that can be assigned likelihoods. Surprisingly I find it difficult to assemble enough events that are interesting and somewhat clearly resolvable.

    Please, if you have your own list that you would be willing to share, or if you just want to collaborate (google Spreadsheet for now), send me an email to aiwk171 (at gmail).

    As an incentive (if you want) I will also give you access to the website as soon as it’s in a beta-version state and you can help me test it!

  25. eclairsandsins says:

    I’m becoming a girl and I want to start hormones. So far I have only cross-dressed and asked people to call me by she/her in 2nd person, and have done nothing physical yet (unless you count working out or shaving my legs or growing long hair on my head.) I need an endicrinologist or other doctor who can prescribe me hormones, and ideally, also do my blood work. Alternatively if you have resources about DIY transitioning (e.g. links to black market sites where I can buy spironolactone) I would like to hear that as well. I’m not really sure where to go and neither does my therapist.

    Location: I go to Santa Clara University and I live on campus, but I go home on the weekends to my parents’ house in west San Jose (near Cupertino) because I visit my therapist on weekends and its close by.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I’m a heteronormative cis-patriarch, so my opinion probably isn’t worth much, but still: aren’t DIY black markets for medical procedures incredibly dangerous ? On the one hand, the person selling you drugs is not really incentivized to make sure they don’t permanently damage your body. On the other hand, posting something to the effect of “I would like to commit a crime, does anyone know how I can do that” on a public site probably isn’t the best way to stay out of jail…

      • maintain says:

        It’s pretty common for people to buy prescription drugs over the internet. These web sites just sell you generics from India. It’s not really illegal unless it’s a controlled substance. (And transgender meds aren’t a controlled substance.)

        I imagine there would be incentive for them to sell you safe drugs, since they could lose their profitable business if word got out that they were selling fakes. Is that any less incentive than Rite Aid or CVS has?

        • toastengineer says:

          Rite Aid can’t pull a disappear and reappear as a different company act to clear bad reputation, and has control over its supply chain. on1in3pfarma$y dot tk very probably does not actually know what factory its products are made in; it just sells what it can get its hands on. That might be your modafinil or your estrogen, or it might be baking soda, even if the pharmacy is 100% trustworthy.

          What exactly is the problem with the official sources?

          • maintain says:

            Yeah, that’s a good point. I’m sure Rite Aid is more statistically more likely to be legit than something bought on the internet.

            I’m just trying to say that the vast majority of people who have bought drugs on the internet have been just fine.

            >What exactly is the problem with the official sources?

            Nothing, they’re just more expensive. For some, they are prohibitively expensive.

      • BeefSnakStikR says:

        posting something to the effect of “I would like to commit a crime, does anyone know how I can do that” on a public site probably isn’t the best way to stay out of jail

        I seriously doubt that the DEA/FDA/whatever bodies are in charge of enforcing those laws has the time to sift through the thousands (millions?) of people on public internet forums expressing a desire to get hormones, force the site to reveal private information, connect this private information to an IP address, then connect the IP address to a name and address, and then actually search the person/address/mail on the off chance that the person has actually gotten said prescription medication.

        Maybe law enforcement is more efficient than I imagine it to be. Feel free to correct me.

        However, I would think twice about taking prescription drugs I don’t have a prescription drug for to airports, border control, or anywhere with security, though.

    • caethan says:

      The first thing any reputable endocrinologist is going to tell you is that before you go on any hormone treatment you need to be actively and consistently living as a woman. Are you?

      I strongly recommend against do-it-yourself hormone dosing. Hormones are hard to dose, easy to screw up, and difficult to recover from failures. All the more so if you’re trying to use shady, poorly quantitated, and potentially adulterated drugs imported from India.

      • ChelOfTheSea says:

        Your information is VERY outdated. “RLE” hasn’t been recommended by any of the major trans orgs before hormones for many years now.

    • rlms says:

      Do you know the rationalist tumblr affiliated Discord? There are probably people there who could give helpful advice.

      • eclairsandsins says:

        I am on rat Tumblr (same username) but not in that discord channel. It suddenly occurred to me that I probably should have asked for advice on Tumblr a long time ago, but whatever. Do you have an invite link?

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      If you can afford it ($150/year fee), One Medical is great for hormones. Informed consent clinic, takes most people’s insurance; feel free to ask whatever questions you want, they won’t deny you hormones. The guy you want to talk to is Jess Pinder.

      If you’re broke, the Bay Area has a lot of sliding-scale informed consent clinics. They always have incredibly long wait times; you get what you pay for.

      The subreddit r/transdiy is the best place for information about DIYing your hormones, but you’re in the Bay so an informed consent clinic is probably way less of a headache. DIY is relatively safe as long as you get your bloodwork done regularly, but it’s a pretty big pain, and if you can afford DIY you can afford One Medical.

      • Nornagest says:

        I am a One Medical member, and while I’m generally happy with it I feel compelled to point out that you’re likely to end up paying more than $150 yearly in bottom-line costs. They do take all the insurance I’ve tried to throw their way, but their billing practices seem to play rougher with it than my previous doctors’.

        For me, it’s worth it for more convenient scheduling and the rest of the quality-of-life improvements they provide (it’s very nice not to do the traditional hour-long kabuki dance for every minor appointment). But it might not be for you. This is based on a general-practice pattern of care; I have no experience with hormones.

      • eclairsandsins says:

        I’ll be sure to check out One Medical since there’s one super close to campus it looks like. I wouldn’t consider myself poor but I’m still mostly dependant on my parents financially, and they don’t even want me to cross dress. A lot depends on whether I can convince them of stuff

        • CricketScience says:

          Damn, girl, I’m so sorry that your parents aren’t supportive. I’m glad you’re in therapy. How robust is the rest of your support network? Do you have trans friends you can talk to?

          • eclairsandsins says:

            I don’t know that many trans people (except online) but I do have a lot of friends, all of whom are supportive. The situation with my parent’s isn’t as bad as it may seem. I really think they’re starting to come around, eventually.

    • ChelOfTheSea says:

      If you’re on the west coast in a city, it is overwhelmingly likely that you can find an informed consent provider. Ask on /r/asktransgender and I’ll bet someone can suggest one for you.

    • e-addict says:

      I don’t personally have resources since I was able to get through the medical system pretty quickly (why is trans healthcare about protecting cis people), but you might want to look at /r/transdiy. ChelOfTheSea has a good point about looking for an informed consent provider: planned parenthood is a potential option? There’s even a few where I am in Texas that will do informed consent HRT.

    • eclairsandsins says:

      Thanks everyone for all your advice. I’m probably going to go for an informed consent clinic instead of DIYing.

  26. commenter#1 says:

    Do you own or work for a small business/start-up that could badly use financial know-how?

    A lot of small companies/start-ups need financial knowledge but aren’t at the size yet where they need (or can afford) a full-time finance person. I can be your outsourced CFO.

    I offer a range of services:
    Turning accounting information into business intelligence using data visualization like Tableau
    Automating and improving internal financial processes – i.e. how you handle cash
    Reducing credit card vendor fees and improving rewards on credit card spend
    Handling bank negotiations for checking, loans, and real estate acquisitions
    Preparing financials for communicating with outside parties (banks, investors)

    By day I’m the CFO at a manufacturing company, but I really enjoy helping small businesses.

    Once we define the scope of the project, my hourly rate is $100-$150 depending on the complexity of the task and if the organization is a non-profit. I can be reached at cfocomment at gmail.

  27. Tibor says:

    I’m not sure to which degree this is an ad and to which a general request about jobs with my qualifications, but I’m posting this here anyway.

    In short:

    I’m a probability theory PhD (in a week, hopefully) and I’m looking for a job in the industry/overview of jobs I should be looking for, specifically, but not exclusively in East Asia (I’m not from Asia, I want to spend roughly 2 years there and then return to Europe).


    I’m about to finish (submitted my thesis, defence exactly a week from now) my PhD in probability theory (in Germany, Göttingen). Specifically, I was mostly studying interacting particle systems (a class of Markov Processes). From my Master I have basic knowledge of statistics and MCMC but nothing fancy. I guess I dust that off and broaden it if needed. I have very little in terms of programming skills, the most “advanced” thing I’ve ever programmed was a rather involved MCMC algorithm taken from a research paper. I did that in C++ but these things don’t really require much more than loops. I also doubt that my implementation was the most efficient. Other than that I just did a few simulations in R. My PhD was average I would say, no huge breakthroughs but at the end there were a few nice results. I’ve already started a PostDoc position which will end in June and during which I will hopefully expand on the results from the thesis and publish two articles (one is probably going to be submitted in January and the second later next year). After that, so roughly in July, I’ll start looking for a “real job”. I speak Czech, English, German (not as well as English, perhaps C1 level), Spanish (roughly B1 level) and Portuguese (A2-B1).

    What I’m looking for:

    Well, I want a general overview of what I can even do in the first place. I don’t want to stay in the academia because I don’t think I’m cut out for that. Unless you’re really good you are happy with whatever permanent position they give you somewhere and I have no intention in moving to some random country permanently. From what I gather with this background there are more or less two “standard careers” – something like a financial analyst/consultant or working on models for a re-insurance company. I’d be fine with both although I do not want to work 60 hour weeks (at least not regularly) which seems to be the case with some of the consulting jobs. What other options are there? I know a guy who switched from my field to programming after a PhD and two PostDocs with about my current level of programming knowledge, using his PhD and PostDocs as an argument for “don’t worry, I’m gonna learn it quickly”. I suppose that would also be an option, although it is not exactly optimal, I’d rather use what I learned at least to some degree.

    Where I’m looking for it:

    I want to take advantage of the fact that I don’t currently have any long-term relationships or even kids to travel a bit. Specifically, I want to live in East Asia for a while (roughly 2 years, give or take a year). Now with my qualifications, I guess Hong Kong, Singapore, maybe Taiwan would be good places to start looking. After that I’m thinking about doing something similar in Latin America – it might be hard to find an appropriate position there and I am expecting to earn much less than I could get probably anywhere in Europe (or at least the EU), this would be mostly to get to know the place. Again 2 years or so and then the plan is to go back to Europe to settle down a bit more and find a long-term position. But that’s a bit far ahead, so the first concern is finding something in East Asia.

    • sswatson says:

      How do you feel about data science? There are quite a few programs geared toward quickly preparing smart people with technical PhDs for jobs with the word “data” in the title. The advantage of this route is the variety of industries where data analysts are valuable. So if you don’t prefer finance, you don’t have to work in finance.

      The demand for these skills also leads to favorable conditions for data scientists, including managing your work hours in many cases. I recently attended a conference at which employers were discussing the challenges of retaining talent and the importance of accommodating a variety of working arrangements.

      I did a probability PhD too, and recently I’ve started working with data science master’s students in the last year of my postdoc job. I’ve found that I like stats and programming, so data science is a pretty great fit for me.

      • Tibor says:

        Thanks for the info. I only have a very vague idea of what “data science” means, basically I imagine it to be a mix of programming/machine learning and statistics. Is that roughly accurate?

        I used to have a somewhat snobbish view of statistics or pretty much anything applied…”just applications” I thought. Now, while I still like theoretical things, it bugs me a bit that I don’t see any concrete outputs. Sure, proving properties of mathematical models is fine but sometimes I wonder when or if these models are actually used for anything. that does not make them any less beautiful but sometimes it feels a bit too self-contained. I find mathematical statistics rather boring, it feels to me it is all about finding ever slightly better estimates…but on the other hand applied statistics, where you perhaps take these new methods and actually apply them to data…that I might in fact enjoy. Then again, being a probability PhD, not a stats PhD means I’d probably have some catching up to do. Not necessarily a bad thing, although I’d like to have a feeling I haven’t just spent 4 years studying something I’m not going to end up using at all.

        It is definitely something to consider.

        One more question – those two papers I mentioned will probably be the only output of my PhD/PostDoc (the PostDoc is going to be very short anyway). I am not sure what is considered good in the industry. For an academic career two fairly good papers would be ok, but not great I think. I suppose they don’t care about it that much in the industry, on the other hand I don’t have any work experience whatsoever (save for some completely unrelated part-time office job during my bachelor), so all they can judge me by is the title and the number of papers (and where those are published).

    • Craig Falls says:

      You might try clicking the Sierpinski triangle in the right-side ads. We have a Hong Kong office, and it is perhaps our most understaffed office at the moment. Given your background I would recommend applying as a quantitative trader. Pretty much we’re looking for some mix of math, programming, and rationality / meta-reasoning skills, or the ability to learn those skills.

      • Tibor says:

        Thanks, sounds interesting. But are you still likely going to be looking for people in July?

        • Craig Falls says:

          Yes. We have been hiring for every position, in every office, every day, for the last 10 years. And there is no end in sight. That being said, we are ridiculously picky, so I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve been hiring “aggressively”. Our growth is limited by ideal applicants, not open positions.

          If you want to start in July, there is no reason not to apply today.

  28. bean says:

    Is there anyone in Oklahoma who would be interested in meeting up? I promise that I can talk about things which are not battleships/naval warfare, contrary to the impression I may give here.

  29. Well... says:

    Anyone know about any “ethics in technology” (or especially “ethics in AI”) conferences/call-for-papers with submission deadlines coming up in the next 1-6 months? Preferably in the US but I’m open to others.

    I already know about http://www.aies-conference.com.

  30. JamesLambert says:

    Our tiny start-up designs tech workshops for children and adults. My co-founder and I are Ph.Ds who escaped research and became a little impatient with how science is taught.

    Here’s our site

    We build robots, learn to code and do lots of hands-on making and doing. We run creative thinking workshops for corporate clients as well as the fun techy workshops for children.

    Our current monthly event is a robotics workshops for children aged 7-12.

    Any feedback from the SSC community is very welcome. my email is james at our website, link above.

    It seems to be manly a Bay Area crowd here, we’re in London. Hello!

    • 2irons says:

      That looks awesome. I have a daughter a few years younger than your target age group but I very much hope either you are still running this when she’s old enough or that with some success you begin to expand the offering downwards. Your pricing is very fair for London as well. If the feedback is any use – I’d certainly be a buyer if you were running something for younger children, even if it required parents to stay for the duration.

  31. x6qjs says:

    tl;dr first: Does anyone here know a mathematician who hasn’t gone into programming?

    Next summer, I’m going to finish my Masters degree in (almost exclusively pure) maths. My plan right now is to become an actuary, i.e. do risk management for an insurance company.

    – Does anyone have experience with this kind of job or know someone who would like to give some insight?

    – I‘d also be interested in alternative careers, although I wouldn’t like to do something that is heavy on coding. Any suggestions?

    If it’s helpful: I’m a top student, but at a non-fancy European university, and I don’t have any practical experience with any kind of actual work (apart from being a TA).

    • DocKaon says:

      You might want to look into operations research as a career option. Basically it’s applied math focused on solving organizational problems. Primarily optimization of various kinds, but it touches on lots of areas. It’s what I do currently and it seems relatively open to people moving into it from pure math. Like any STEM field these days there will likely be some coding involved to support data analysis and model building, but nothing like a programmer position. The amount of real math you’d be doing day to day varies quite a bit by position, if that is important to you.

      • x6qjs says:

        Thank you for the response, that’s something I haven’t had considered yet and I’ll definitely look into it! And I guess some basic coding would be okay for me.

    • JohnBuridan says:

      My gf went from math to actuarial consulting. I’ll ask her for what advice she’d give her two-years ago self. I think the big thing is getting used to the systems which the company you work for uses. This sounds obvious.

      Another is know how workplace environments schedule the day.
      1. Check emails.
      2. Prioritize what needs to get done.
      3. There might be a meeting.
      4. Spend the rest of the day desperately trying to complete your priorities list, while other questions try to slow you down.
      5. Rinse and repeat.

      For math majors the transition isn’t too bad. In the U.S. you can’t sign anything until you complete the regiment of 5 tests (takes about 5 years). Those tests cover high calc, statistics, probability, and I don’t know what else.

      But you can start working immediately in the company and be useful.
      There’s a ton of attention to detail work involved: a lot of mailings, data cleaning, data formatting.
      And a lot of Microsoft Excel.

      My gf enjoys it, has been doing it for three years, and is just now starting to take the tests.

      Hope that helps.

      • x6qjs says:

        Hey, thanks for the response!

        I actually like the idea of that schedule. I usually make a similar one for myself (I‘m very inefficient without one).

        The tests and that you’re doing them while already working sound really similar to what we have here in Germany (I think it’s more tests, but they also usually take five years).

        If it’s not too late, I‘d be interested to know:

        – is there anything I should know before choosing between being an actuary at an insurance company or at a consulting firm?

        – I should have lots of free time in the last semester (but not enough to do an internship or something like that). Is there any way I could prepare myself for the job or increase my chances? For example, I’m considering doing an Excel seminar. If so, do you think it’s worth it? (The last seminar I looked at is 500€).

        Thanks again!

        • JohnBuridan says:

          No reason to pay for Excel class. Just learn and practice using some formulas on your own.

          Concerning Insurance vs. Consulting firms, gf is consulting and only knows about insurance actuaries through hearsay. She thinks consulting has more varied projects, and they can be more interesting since you work with a greater variety of clients. The stereotype is that consulting actuaries are introverted, while insurance actuaries are super introverted.

          She also says it’s really hard to get in without having completed the first test.

          Hope that helps!

    • Simon says:

      I suppose I fit the description. I run a mathematics institute called Euler Circle in the San Francisco Bay Area where I teach college-level mathematics classes to high-school students. There are tons of people teaching such students how win competitions, but very few are teaching them mathematics beyond the contest curriculum, which is really a shame. I’d love to see similar institutes pop up in other places.

      • Elephant says:

        “There are tons of people teaching such students how win competitions.” The Bay Area really is another world…

      • x6qjs says:

        That sounds really interesting! I enjoyed being a TA and had really good ratings, but I don’t think I‘d be cut for research. So maybe I should look into something like you’re describing!

    • ninjafetus says:

      I’m a mathematician that hasn’t gone (at least not completely) into programming. I work mostly in operations research for the US Navy. I got the job straight after my MS and have been working here the last 8 years.

      At least at my base, they like to hire mathematicians as analysts. We are good at logic and thinking and such.

    • SamChevre says:

      I’m an actuary (US, life) with 15 years experience. I’m happy to answer questions–here, or at this username at gmail.

  32. rachetfoot says:

    So probably a long shot, but I’ve been looking for a student/part-time software developer in the Aarhus, Denmark area. I am an independent software developer and work out of my home. Qualifications aren’t important, but I am looking for somebody who enjoys programming, likes learning new things, and is selv-motivated. I expect occasional office days at an office hotel (less than weekly, but more in the beginning), probably in Lystrup or Elev, but most of the work would be done from your own home. Attractive wage and free lunch on office days. Also I’m easy to work with.

    Also: I work on apps for the increasingly popular Atlassian products, and besides that also have a consulting client in the wind turbine industry. So I can provide valuable contacts / experience.

    email me at [username]@gmail.com

  33. theodidactus says:

    Some people on the site have been playing my survival/horror text-based adventure game, and they seem to like it:


    once the semester’s over and I am safely ensconced in holiday cheer, I’m going to do some quality of life updates.

    • honhonhonhon says:

      Feedback: I got to the bjestic hills and wrote “leave” meaning “leave this world”, but the game saw it as “turn back”.

      • theodidactus says:

        Wow, that’s a latent bug from very early in design. I will add it to the fix list. I will probably be able to update the game within the next week.

        Congrats for getting to the Bijestic hills so quickly, that’s actually a tough place to find.

    • Ketil says:

      I downloaded the blorb file, but the interpreter software (gargoyle-free on Ubuntu Linux) only reports that it cannot load the file. The “file” command reports “IFF data, Blorb Interactive Fiction with executable chunk” – I wonder if it might be the “executable chunk” bit which is causing trouble?

      • theodidactus says:

        you can also just download it and run it as an executable file, that should work on most windows systems.

        It is probably dangerous for an aspiring game designer to cop to not actually being very good at tech…I learned the hard way not to rely on Adrift for what I ultimately wanted this game to be. The next game I make will be in Python.

      • toastengineer says:

        Frotz is generally considered the standard interpreter for Z-Machine games (which being a blorb file usually indicates); never even heard of gargoyle. Try that.

        Blorb is an executable format; it dates back to the 80s when there were like 30 different microcomputer formats all completely incompatible; if you could get away with it, you wrote your games targeting a VM and then just wrote the VM once for each game.

        Blorbs can optionally be made with just the non-executable assets, hence file mentioning the “executable blob.”

      • BeefSnakStikR says:

        I’ve never had any luck running ADRIFT files in Gargoyle. I usually just run the official Adrift interpreter in WINE.

  34. Walter says:

    I write a web serial at https://thefifthdefiance.com/ .

    Elevator pitch, people got superpowers and smashed the world into a distopia. Now some people are trying to fix things, but that is very difficult.

    • screwtape says:

      I’ve been reading you since last summer! I like your powersets, and the question of where we would want the Process at has sparked a couple of interesting debates in my apartment.

      • Walter says:

        Thanks for reading! I appreciate it so much when I find out that someone is enjoying my work.

        As far as where you get Processed…I hear that the Union hands out those little cookies and apple juice, like when you give blood. 🙂

    • Zeno of Citium says:

      Cool, adding that to my reading list.

  35. landonlehman says:

    Physicist here interested in doing freelance/consulting work. See my website for details (https://landonlehman.com/). I can give examples of past freelance projects I have worked on and go into more detail about my skill set if you contact me.

  36. Scott says:

    My cousin Alix Genter—who was previously in the national news (and my blog) for a bridal store’s refusal to sell her a dress for a same-sex wedding—recently started a freelance academic editing business. Alix writes to me:

    “I work with scholars (including non-native English speakers) who have difficulty writing on diverse projects, from graduate work to professional publications. Although I have more expertise in historical writing and topics within gender/sexuality studies, I am interested in scholarship throughout the humanities and qualitative social sciences.”

    If you’re interested, you can visit Alix’s website here. She’s my cousin, so I’m not totally unbiased, but I recommend her highly.

    –Scott Aaronson (i.e., “The Second-Best Nerd Blogger Named Scott A, And No, Scott Adams Is Not In The Running”)

  37. arnbobo says:

    Anyone interested in helping my improve my CV? I’m currently a undergraduate physics major (I’m also probably going for minors in math and classics) and I want to make sure it’s as polished as can be so I have the best shot at research positions this summer. I’ve linked it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UDDaq0DbT5jO6BOz63Rs7WquG49iZW2r/view?usp=sharing

    • Seanny123 says:

      Really quickly:

      – Put skills summary first and education last.
      – Make your bullet points more brief. ACTION VERBS!
      – Order bullet points in resume by:
      – Summary of awesomeness
      – Description of awesomness

    • veeloxtrox says:

      You are an undergrad, it should fit on one page. To that affect:

      Remove all your highschool stuff, employers don’t care much.
      Increase your margines, right now they are huge bring them down to either 3/4 or 1/2 inch.
      Unless your other writing guide is publication level get rid of it or host it on a personal website or GitHub.
      Use two columns for actives and honors.
      Your technical skills is way too wordy, split it into experienced and exposure. You don’t need to explain each item.

      Also, add your gpa both general and major. If GPA is omitted, I assume it is really bad <2.0 so you should put it.

    • oldman says:

      Tip #1 – don’t say what you did, say why the thing you did was great
      “Was responsible for an independent project in computational astrophysics involving modeling
      the evolution of R Coronae Borealis stars” – so what? As someone reading your CV you could have been responsible for this, but then done a terrible job. If you had “Built a model using <> revealing <>” you show that you are successfully using cutting edge techniques to discover things that no-one else has done yet.

      Tip #2 Be bolder
      You haven’t said where you’re from, so this advice is contingent on your country’s attitude towards modesty. But within the UK (somewhere where the culture skews more humble than in the US) this is way too modest.
      “Gained familiarity” could describe someone who has used something once or twice. Can you quantify your familiarity, either through impressive achievements using these modules or through credentials.

      Tip #3 Use colour
      People are easily influenced by pretty presentation. Add some colour, maybe some slim lines to separate sections. Anything to make it prettier. If you don’t have an eye for design, find someone that does and ask them to do it for you.

  38. jiscariot says:

    Hi SSC – Long time reader/comment lurker. I can’t thank Scott enough for hosting this blog and helping cultivate this community. This place has really made me think about the world differently. The regular commenters (you know who you are) feel like family. It is not often you find internet postings/articles where you want to read the comments, let alone comment threads so good you need to use bookmarks so you can get through a thousand posts in multiple sittings. 🙂

    Since it is show-and-tell time, I’d like to highlight a site I created and opened up a week ago that has OCR/text-indexed the 2017 declassified files related to the JFK assassination. I don’t have interest in the event or conspiracies around it, but thought it would be a good project to brush up on a few skills. Most of the stuff that I find interesting in the archive is more by virtue of it being a cultural artifact of the time period.

    Everything is in there except half of the 11/03 release (which should be in the next couple of days). I’m not an expert in image manipulation/cleanup and the OCR gets a lot wrong, but I’ve found it to be helpful. Anyways, thanks for listening (and everything else) SSC.


  39. jeffrotull2000 says:

    I’m trying to conduct a study of top producing salespeople in California. Only problem is my ability to design the study is abysmal. I’ve been in mortgage for 9 years and always noticed the extremely low quality of sales literature. There is no real research. The body of work is conjecture, testimonial, or shallow statistics designed to make a predetermined point.

    I already know who my subjects are but I want to design an interview template that will tease out relevant data. Anyone here with experience designing quality research questionnaires would be of great help. Maybe someone with a background in psychology or marketing research?

    Sales training is dominated by biographies of individually successful people or Tony Robbins-esque motivational fluff. I want to introduce some rigor into it.

    • johnswentworth says:

      Will this research be public once complete? I work at a mortgage origination startup, and would be very interested to see what you find.

      • jeffrotull2000 says:

        Yes, I was going to focus on real estate agents but will likely include other sales professionals who work in a similar way (insurance, financial advisors, etc). Probably release as a book or seminar series or something. I’m working on it with a professional sales training consultant who thinks the same way.

        Great to see another mortgage person in the rationality-sphere. I don’t encounter many of us here. Hope your startup goes well. Whats it called?

        • johnswentworth says:

          It’s called LoanSnap. (In my defense, I wasn’t involved in naming.) Most of the team started out as a tech division in Paramount Equity, but we struck out on our own after a bit.

          What sort of work do you typically do?

          • jeffrotull2000 says:

            I’m an originator in CA with Union Bank. The research project grew out of a friendship I have with a prominent sales trainer in the area. He’s like me where he wants data and noticed that due to the lack of serious research in sales there isn’t really any useful data on why top people perform so well. Lots of theories supported entirely by speculation and testimonial it seems.

    • Erusian says:

      Hey guys!

      I’ve worked on research with Political Economy, Econometrics, Pure Statistics, and on Political Polling/Research. I’ve designed some rather complex surveys and produced a few papers, though I was mostly assisting professors, post-docs, or company researchers. I’d be happy to help with study design, writing the study, etc.

      I’m a bit overzealous about guarding my personal information. (Bad experiences, sorry.) Can you give me a way to get in touch?

  40. James Miller says:

    My Future Strategist podcast has two recent episodes: Sexbots and Moloch’s Future Shadow. If you like the podcast consider joining its Facebook group, and leaving a positive review wherever you listen to podcasts.

  41. Collin says:

    1) Has anyone experimented with the ketogenic diet specifically for cognitive and energy gains? What was your experience?

    2) Anyone want to sublet a bedroom in San Francisco Dec 23rd-Jan 1st? (NOPA, $50/night, individuals only, shared bathroom)

    • James Miller says:

      Yes, I have been on a somewhat ketogenic diet for around 8 years with bulletproof intermittent fasting. It’s had a big positive impact on me. I have more energy and I get sick far less often. But read about the Atkins Flu to prepare for this one-time possible transition cost.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I’ve done ketogenic diets before, though my goal was always weight loss and not cognitive improvement.

      I honestly didn’t really notice a difference in my thoughts or my energy. I lost a lot of weight, put on a few pounds of muscle, and was much less hungry but that’s about it.

    • Dog says:

      I was on a ketogenic diet for about 6 months. I did not notice any improvements in cognition / processing ability as such, but there was a shift in my mental energy levels. I felt like I needed to expend less motivation to complete mental tasks and had a greater reserve of mental energy, but also that my baseline energy level when refreshed and well rested was worse – a sort of flattening of the daily mental energy curve. I felt slightly on edge much of the time as well.

    • sov says:

      I’ve had about 10 months on keto. I’ve also tried piracetam/choline. If I were to estimate (noting that self-reporting is notoriously unreliable), I’d say that a ketogenic diet provided more “mental clarity” than piracetam by a significant margin.

      Of course “mental clarity” could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. If I were to try to remember back (it was 5 years ago I did keto, and about 6 for piracetam)–I’d say there were three important things that keto helped with.

      First, and least noticeably, memory. I had an easier time remembering medium-term things on keto (eg: what I ate over the course of the last week, dates/etc. scheduled within the week, homework from classes, etc.). The effect wasn’t large, and its notability might be purely placebo.

      Second, my focus improved. I found myself be able to do something for a longer period of time without the restless need to switch up to something else. Now, I work as a software engineer, and I definitely find myself checking ssc / discord / facebook / twitter / etc. pretty frequently, even if just for a few minutes at a time. I recall doing that before keto as well, but, looking back on it now, recall several times where I was working on large projects on keto and focused on them fairly easily.

      Third, and the largest effect, was an improved motivation to do things. Actually, maybe “improved motivation” isn’t quite right–rather, it was a diminished barrier of entry to do things. Cleaning the apartment? Heck, I’ll do it later or something. On Keto? No problem, let’s get that apartment clean right now. My procrastination took a huge nosedive when I was on keto because it felt like “just doing the thing I need to do” was less effort. This could just be an effect of following a rigid plan like keto and not actually an effect of the diet, however, but I’d be surprised to learn the diet had no impact.

  42. theredsheep says:

    Well, I published a science-fiction novel this summer. It’s five hundred pages long … which includes three appendices and a glossary to help you make your way around a sprawling fictional world I’ve been building inside my head for several years. It takes place on a colony world partially terraformed by religious separatists, which crashed hard from overpopulation and forgot much of its history. The heroine is a teenage girl with “miraculous” powers of healing as a result of ancient genetic experiments; using her gift weakens her physically, and makes her an attractive tool for manipulative men at a time when the world’s civilization is teetering on the edge of a second collapse. Which is to say: it’s complex, multifaceted, told from multiple points of view–all the things that make a book awkward casual reading but probably attractive to SSC readers. It’s called The Curse of Life, available in dead-tree for $14.53, Kindle for $4.76, or free to read with Amazon Prime. Thanks for reading this!

    • roystgnr says:

      Do you have a sample chapter anywhere?

      • I think Kindles automatically let you read a free sample from the beginning.

        • theredsheep says:

          Annoyingly, since I’m the author, I don’t see things on Amazon from a customer’s perspective; I’m so new at digital media that it took me weeks just to get the Kindle edition up. I know you can read the entire first section (about forty pages) right on the Look Inside on Amazon, only the formatting is goofy. Anyway, thanks very much to all of you! Any and all feedback is welcome.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Have you tried logging out and clearing your cookies or using a different browser? You still can’t test things you’d need to log in and buy the whole book to see, but it’d be a lot better than nothing.

          • theredsheep says:

            Okay, it looks like, if you click on “Look Inside” on Amazon (you click the cover image, basically), there’s an option on the left-hand side to send the sample it pops up onscreen to Kindle. Thank you, Evan.

          • I’m almost half way through the book at this point and enjoying it. I’m not sure if it would be better if you made the world-building a little less gradual–I had some difficulty making sense of parts of it.

          • theredsheep says:

            “Hard to get into” is the single most common complaint I’ve gotten. I sort of tied my hands with the epistolary format; I really enjoy the intimacy of perspective, but that’s of course a two-edged sword. Can’t describe anything that isn’t unfamiliar to the writer of that particular document. Oh well, the sequel won’t have such problems. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

          • I have finished it and enjoyed it.

            Your characters are very good–interesting, different, for the central group admirable people.

            My main reservation is that I don’t think you do an adequate job of feeding the reader information on a very complicated background. There are lots of invented names for things and it is not always obvious in context what they mean, which rapidly gets confusing. I was helped a little by recognizing the Islamic origins of some of them (Qadi, Bey, Amir, …), but only a little. It felt as though you had had a lot of fun with world building but were not making adequate allowance for the difference between your perception after long immersion in your world and what a reader would see.

            Obviously that becomes less of a problem with sequels.

            Which raises an issue I have been thinking about with my current project, which is a sequel to my second novel. To what extent should one write a sequel in ways targeted at both the readers who have read the original and the ones who have not?

        • theredsheep says:

          Well, given where mine ends, I don’t intend to put in a lot of in-line recapitulation; we’ve all read series where, by the third or fourth book, the first two chapters consist of the characters reminiscing about all the stuff that happened beforehand. And a LOT has happened in that first book, with our gang having at least three sets of enemies to keep track of. I intend to include a brief introduction and recap for a refresher at the beginning of the book, but it’s difficult to balance friendship-to-noobs with not annoying the devil out of people who read the original and don’t need to skim past endless paragraphs of backstory.

          The rules are going to vary from series to series, of course. I’m exploring Discworld right now, and order generally doesn’t matter there if you don’t mind minor spoilers, because each Discworld book tends to be an independent story set in the same world with a few common characters, and the world generally riffs off accepted fantasy tropes. With more connected stories, or more complicated worlds, the difficulty grows considerably.

          So the question is, what kind of novel are you writing? If this sequel cannot be understood without knowledge from the first one, the reader can either read the first one first or have the plot of the first one effectively spoiled for him by reading out of order.

          I’m somewhat in a corner just due to the format, like I said. I don’t want to adopt a different POV for the sequel–I don’t like to write outside the first person–but with such a complicated world the letter style makes exposition difficult. Anyway, thank you very much for giving my opus a shot! I haven’t had time to do more than glance at yours, I’m afraid.

          • So the question is, what kind of novel are you writing?

            So far, the only significant advantage to having read Salamander first is that various bits will seem more entertaining, such as a character making a reasonable incorrect guess about things that happened in the previous book.

            The current problem is that there is a major secondary character in the first book who is still around in the background of the second but gets no attention at all, mostly because he is too strong a character and would mess up the balance of the story.

            He was the subject of a major reveal in the first book. He could play a useful role in the climax of the second book. If all my readers have read the first book that’s fine, but for any who have not a powerful and important character suddenly showing up to solve a problem looks like a deus ex machina.

            I haven’t had time to do more than glance at yours, I’m afraid.

            No problem. When I finish the draft of the sequel–which is almost done, assuming I can make the ending work–I plan to post in a classified thread here asking for beta readers.

          • theredsheep says:

            It sounds like it could be simple enough to make mention of what was revealed about that character in the first book, in an offhand way–assuming it wasn’t revealed in secret in such a way that no viewpoint characters know about it. Even then, it doesn’t count as a deus ex machina provided there are hints to work with and it works in terms of the story’s internal logic, no? A DEM comes out of left field to save an incompetent writer who’s got himself into a corner. A plot twist, on the other hand, fits with the fabric, and if the reader looks back he can say things like, “ah, that would be why he’s not scared of fire, then” or “I knew he mentioned the thing about the key for a reason.”

    • Walter says:

      Interesting, I’ll check it out.

      • theredsheep says:

        Thanks! Let me know how you like it–and tell Amazon, too, if you have the time and the inclination.

  43. Isaac says:

    I’m looking for someone interested in discussing LSTMs, evolutionary strategies for neural net optimization, and/or training set selection techniques such at QBC. Also, methods for effectively explaining these topics.

    Also looking for someone interested in non Python TensorFlow bindings, particularly the Go bindings.

    If you are interested in discussing these topics, email me at isaac@isaacleonard.com

  44. yossarian says:

    As for success stories – I’ve posted my info/link to resume on two of those threads and got some interesting hits on it. It didn’t go too far with most of them, but in the end I was able to land a contract with an interesting startup in Germany. Now, the bureaucracy and waits in the visa process are really driving me up the wall though ><

  45. Slice says:

    Anyone interested in solving crossword puzzles, I have put several up. This is just a hobby for me. No cost. No ads. But if you have any constructive feedback, that’s always welcome. link

    • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

      Cool! Did you do it manually, or using some software to generate them?

      Some feedback on layout: Maybe others have different styles of solving, but in the online version I find having to scroll very annoying. Usually I jump all over the puzzle when solving a crossword, and the definitions must be merely a flick of the eye away or it gets a tad tedious.

      Maybe a layout for bigger screens could show it all at a glance? In printed puzzles I used to solve the numbers were in bold text and easy to find, so the definitions didn’ have to be on separate lines and were still easy to glance. That could work on screens too, and may also allow the printed version to fit into one page.

      • Slice says:

        I use the software qxw to help make them. It creates the html basics. I then have to create the clues and run a couple of scripts to get things into the web version format.

        In the online version, the clue should always match the cursor position. It is highlighted on the side and also shown just below the puzzle. If you press spacebar, it will switch orientation (across to down, or vice-versa).

        My HTML/CSS skills are not quite up to the task of easily cramming everything on one page for printing.

        Thanks for the feedback!

        • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

          Thanks for the info!

          In the online version, the clue should always match the cursor position.
          That is nice to know. 🙂

  46. Shaun Raviv says:

    I’m a longtime SSC reader in Atlanta, and I’d be interested in a meetup in 2018. Anyone else live here?

  47. secret_tunnel says:

    Launching a newsletter for games in about a month to help smaller developers get publicity without resorting “building relationships” on Twitter. agameaday.org:

    “The game industry has a problem.

    2017 saw the release of over 5000 new games on Steam. Sites like itch.io are being flooded with aspiring developers’ first projects. Even indie veterans who made it big a decade ago are admitting that it’s impossible to stand out in today’s market.

    This should be a good thing. With more variety than ever before, storefronts and news sites could use machine learning and data collection to better recommend games to players based on their individual tastes.

    But they’re not doing this. The only way to keep up with every game that comes out is to immerse yourself in the political arguments, internet drama, and addictive clickbait of social media. We’ve created a culture where only the loudest voices are heard, and good work is lost in a sea of controversy.

    A Game a Day’s goal is to help fight this. Every single day, we’ll email you with a curated game recommendation. Whether it’s big or small, free or paid, made in Twine or with hour long credits—if it’s good, we’ll make sure you hear about it without having to leave the comfort of your inbox.

    Subscribe to Newsletter

    • jbombastor says:

      This described my exact experience trying to get any attention at all on itch.io for that game I mentioned up-thread. I think these classfied threads are more effective than anything else I’ve done so far, which is daft given there’s not all that much audience overlap.


      • toastengineer says:

        I just shill on Reddit a whole bunch. Seems to work great.

      • secret_tunnel says:

        Yeah, I plugged a game of mine in one of these classified threads and that got me more interested players than anything else. Seems like it’s a matter of reaching the handful of people who are really interested rather than yelling at everyone who might mildly care.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Wait, I’m confused: are you guys like a Pandora for games, based on “machine learning and data collection” ? Or do you just send out one arbitrary game recommendation per day ? If it’s the latter, then how do I know your taste in games will match mine ?

      • secret_tunnel says:

        It’ll be one arbitrary game recommendation per day. My personal problem with keeping up with games is wondering if I’ve missed something really cool as a result of pulling away from social media. My goal with this newsletter is to highlight pretty much every game that someone could feasibly care about so that they don’t have to worry about that.

        Of course, this doesn’t address the problem that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of games out there with potential audiences that I won’t be able to recommend. That would require a system that can do personalized recommendations. I’m hoping to be able to find the most interesting of the bunch and at the very least show these; if there end up being more than a few hundred that qualify per year, I might have to rethink it. In these early stages before I’m getting a ton of submissions though, I’ll have to do a lot of work to even find these games in the first place.

        I’ll also have to try to be objective enough to understand when something would appeal to people who aren’t me. I feel like this won’t be too hard, but you’re right, it might be better of me to take the modest outside view and admit that I’ll probably be biased. I’ll have to work against that bias.

        • Bugmaster says:

          That’s fair, but then, how are you different from e.g. OpenCritic, or Steam reviews ? Is it just the “push” nature of the service ?

  48. TheContinentalOp says:

    Looking for a Temp COO, or a place to find such a person.

    The father of my best friend from high-school died earlier this year. He owned and was the driving force for a small company (10 employees, maybe U$ 2-4 million in annual sales) that specialized in laboratory automation.

    His widow is not equipped to run the company. My friend from HS, is doing the checks, but he has health issues (is on SSDI) so he’s really not capable of doing more.

    A temp COO fell into their laps (the father had contacted him about getting the company ready for sale) and has been in place for the last nine months.

    Mother and son are not pleased with the COO, but feel trapped as they have no idea who to turn to. Ideally they’d like to sell the company in the next 12 months.

    ETA: the company located is in the Philadelphia-area.

    • commenter#1 says:

      Why is it a COO and not a CEO if they need someone to run the company?

      Are you local in Philly with them?

      If they want to sell quickly, all they need to do is stabilize and flip it. There are a number of people who specialize in selling these types of companies but liquidity is not great because they aren’t true “businesses.” As you are obviously witnessing, companies that small are still highly dependent on the founder.

      Depending on what exactly they need help with, I may know some people. This is potentially sensitive and might be better offline. What’s the best way to reach you?

      • TheContinentalOp says:

        The son wants someone to manage day-to-day operations, but he wants to retain the authority to make “strategic” decisions. Like I said his health is not the best and he’s not doing his best thinking. Plus he’s still dealing with the grief from his father’s death.

        Yes, I am in the Philly area.

        You can reach me at milominderbinder2011 AT live.com

    • michelemottini says:

      You could try contacting local angel investor group – they usually work with small companies and they could know someone. https://www.robinhoodventures.com/ http://www.delawarecrossing.org/ https://benfranklin.org/

      Also maybe the Drexel or UPenn business school.

  49. Simon says:

    I teach college-level mathematics classes for high-school students in the San Francisco Bay Area at Euler Circle. We offer one class each quarter at the moment; in January, we’ll start a new class on the mathematics of Euler, going through some of his papers and seeing where they lead in modern mathematics.

  50. Nobody says:

    AlphaZero seems to have caused a bit of a turmoil in the chess world with the creators claiming that after having been fed the rules of chess and having four hours of introspection it was able to comprehensively beat the 2016 world champion chess program Stockfish (albeit a somewhat crippled version with no opening or ending library and a strange time control) in a match of a hundred games. Whether or not you believe this is a mighty accomplishment, few deny the same program’s success at Go and Shogi.

    So how much of this is hype, how much fact, and how much the end of the world as we know it?

    • Craig Falls says:

      I think it’s kind of a big deal. The new thing is that given the rules of a new board game — you know, the normal kind with two players and no hidden information or randomness and less than a thousand or so legal moves — you can create a top-level bot with just a few days of work and computation.

      My guess is that the technique really is that general, and would also work on, say, Arimaa, which was specifically designed to be hard for bots to beat humans at, and which took my friend years of work and lots of ingenuity to create a bot better than the best humans. A year ago that was a big accomplishment, as of last week it would be pretty easy.

      Board games are ~solved. Now to find out what exactly counts as a “board game” for these purposes…

    • entobat says:

      I’m speaking on this as an amateur; my peak lichess blitz rating is in the 2000s, though currently I’m around 1900. I am not currently active in any IRL chess leagues.

      I don’t know about “the end of the world as we know it”, but the chess community is very excited about AlphaZero. There is a perception that it’s playing “as a human”, i.e. does not have the blind spots that have plagued computer chess since its inception—most of which are related to an inability to consider “intangible” concerns, like strong piece placement, and inability to recognize the kinds of plans that play out over more moves than is practical to set as a time horizon.

      In addition, it seems very, very good, and the time control thing is less of an issue than you might think—the Stockfish games were played at a fairly fast time control, but AlphaZero seems to improve more with added time than Stockfish does. That is, the match would have been even more lopsided with more time.

      Also worth noting that AlphaZero doesn’t have opening or ending books built-in either.

      • Nobody says:

        AlphaZero may not have opening books per se, but I understand it played itself many times before settling on the openings it uses. The “memory” of those openings seems pretty similar to an opening library to me, even if AlphaZero built it itself. Stockfish relies heavily on its own opening library. I wouldn’t expect a match where a chess master beat Stockfish stripped of said library to be given much credit.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      If you are worried about the end of the world, I have an open offer to bet on something specific you are worried about.

      I watched a few chess games the program played. It plays in a very interesting way, I enjoyed watching it, and learned quite a bit about chess in the process.

      • Nobody says:

        End of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

        (Even if it were the actual end of the world, I doubt it would concern me much. The world seems rather overrated tbh)

  51. moshez says:

    Are you interested in Python and want to work on an interesting project? NColony has a bunch of open Pull Requests that I would love to have someone review. Some of them are for Doc changes, so if you are a newbie, you are really qualified — if you cannot understand them, that’s a problem that should be fixed.

    • Noumenon72 says:

      If you don’t take the time to actually explain what your project does here or in the readme, you can’t expect anyone but rank newbies who just want to contribute to anything open source. It’s like asking if anyone wants to proofread a book and not saying if it’s a math textbook or dress patterns. Any mathematicians or dressmakers will skip by uninterested and you will get only grammar Nazis who like to argue about period spacing.

      And what a huge barrier to entry to not only have to read the code, and find code that interests you, but actually figure out what the project is doing first.

      • Bugmaster says:

        FWIW I’ve clicked over to the NColony project site, and I still don’t understand what it’s supposed to do. It sounds like some sort of a cron clone or something. I suppose I could find out by reading this code, but like you said, that’s way too much time commitment.

        • Aapje says:

          I agree. The project site desperately needs an ‘elevator pitch’ / USP, which answers the question: why would people use NColony, rather than any of the alternatives?

  52. Zubon says:

    Do we have anyone around who works at Disney, preferably in a professional role? I am looking at a mid-career jump in industries, and it would be helpful to talk to someone already there.

    There is a direct contact link if you click my name, if that works better for you.

  53. Roxolan says:

    I’m a graduate / junior software developer in London, UK (willing to relocate), looking for a new job.

    Background in Java, some skill in C++ and Clojure, tinkered on Android some. Here’s a CV.

    In an ideal world, I could just say

    my CV has a gap in the middle because joblessness was absolute hell to me and left me barely functional for a while; I’m quite willing to be underpaid if it gets me to a stable working situation promptly

    and someone would offer the mutually beneficial trade-off. But that’s not how normal recruiter-candidate relationships work at all. I hope I can get away with saying it here.

  54. michelemottini says:

    We are hiring developers and dev ops – https://stackoverflow.com/jobs/companies/careevolution

    • balrog says:

      How does company without reporting hierarchy, management, roles, reviews, assignments, time tracking, vacation policy, expense policy or any other policy work? All those stuff seem super useful to me.

      Especially in medical field which just adores to have trucks of paperwork for every product.

      • michelemottini says:

        Works pretty well. The company has been in business 15 years, I have been with it 4 years, during which we doubled in size.

        Turns out that if you don’t direct people they self-organize, do what’s needed and don’t abuse the freedom – and someone even volunteers to do the paperwork!

        It is not a complete un-heard of arrangement: Netflix, Valve and Zappos do (or did?) the same thing

  55. marsvegas says:

    So I was recently diagnosed with a rare, benign brain tumor on the floor of my 4th ventricle, resting between my brain stem and cerebellum. The tumor is large (2cm) and looks like it should block the flow of CSF entirely, however, I have yet to experience hydrocephalus. I’m posting this for a few reasons:

    1.) Firstly, I’m wondering if anyone has known anyone with a similar tumor that I could talk to (Ependymomas, Subependymomas, Choroid plexus papillomas, or any other tumors in the precarious location next to the brain stem.)

    2.) Also, I’m wondering if people have recommendations for neurosurgeons and neuro-oncologists. I live in Austin, TX but I plan on traveling for treatment. So far I have talked to neurosurgeons at Baylor in Houston, around Austin, and have a consult at Mayo Clinic in January.

    3.) I don’t know if this is a considered a faux pas, and I apologize if that’s the case, but my family has set up a donation fund for me to receive out-of-network treatment. Brain surgery is expensive and I will likely have to go out of network to find a neurosurgeon with experience operating on these. Here is the link if anyone is interested in helping out.

    4.) Lastly, If anyone has experience negotiating with insurance companies or has dealt with major, expensive healthcare costs in the past. I would love any advice.

    Thanks in advance,

    • This may or may not be helpful, but I had surgery for a meningioma, a benign tumor in the membrane that surrounds the brain, some years back. My surgeon was Dr. Lifshitz, who I was told teaches the operation at Stanford, and I was very happy with the results. One of my doctors at the time strongly recommended him and I waited a month or so for surgery in order to get him rather than someone else to do it.

      I don’t know if he does surgery for your problem or not.

      • marsvegas says:

        Thanks, David. That is helpful. I will check out Dr. Lifshitz.

        • Erl137 says:

          It is worth noting that Stanford does have some pretty robust financial support programs for indigent patients. No idea if you qualify, but I advise you to pursue the matter if you end up treated at Stanford.

          • marsvegas says:

            Thank you. Will definitely be looking into that.

          • I had surgery at Stanford some years later for an unrelated problem, and ended up with a very positive impression of the place. The meningioma surgery was done at a local hospital, which I don’t think belonged to Stanford at that point (one of the local ones now does), by a surgeon who also taught at Stanford.

  56. ManyCookies says:

    On a lighter note, my friends are running a daily MtG 4-card Blind league. You build a four card hand, it gets played round robin against all other decks, and all the cards in the winning deck get banned for subsequent rounds (besides basics). It’s on Round 44, so they’re basically past the mini-vintage/legacy decks and onto… weird stuff. I’ve had good fun with it, despite not being much of a 60 card deckbuilder.

  57. TheStoryGirl says:

    So….long-time reader of the blog, short-time reader of the comments, first-time poster, and I might not be fully up to speed on the microculture of the SSC comment community. So, quick question: Does “personals” also include, uh, like dating personals?

    I just ask because it seems like no one is doing that.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Pretty sure that it’s allowed; you’re just hanging out in a community where ‘things you say online being weaponised against you by a vengeful campaign to ruin your life’ is a high-ranking concern, so you shouldn’t expect to see too much of it 🙂

      • fortaleza84 says:

        Even if nothing heavy like that happens, it’s something of a touchy subject. For some reason, people can get very riled up over other peoples’ relationship desires and expectations. Even putting aside culture-war issues.

      • TheStoryGirl says:

        you’re just hanging out in a community where ‘things you say online being weaponised against you by a vengeful campaign to ruin your life’ is a high-ranking concern

        My goodness, that means this might be the perfect place for me to post a dating ad!

    • Protagoras says:

      Such things have been posted in the past, and I am not aware of any policy change, so likely it is just people not wanting to do that here for whatever reason.

      • quanta413 says:

        Well isn’t it like… 95% male here? So for the most common male-female relationships this is not a good place to search. Maybe this is a great place to put up a personal ad if you’re a gay rationalist looking for another gay rationalist. Beats me.

        A lot of people here are married or introverted permanent bachelors too (ok, maybe the second type isn’t really permanent). Can’t imagine that helps either.

        • TheStoryGirl says:

          Well isn’t it like… 95% male here? So for the most common male-female relationships this is not a good place to search.

          Unless I’m missing something, as a straight cis-female, that makes this a potentially excellent place for me to search.

    • eh says:

      I seem to remember Scott posting something along the lines that personals are welcome, but man seeking woman personals are unlikely to be very successful, owing to the demographics of SSC.

      • TheStoryGirl says:

        Hm. You’d think the reverse would then be true; that the demographics would favor women looking for men, but despite my joking around above, I’ve found that if there isn’t a critical mass of people in a community looking, “looking” just isn’t done at all, and thus it doesn’t matter how favorable the demographics might be to me, personally.

        Or, it could be me. I am the constant in my various communities, after all.

        • Deiseach says:

          I wonder if it’s more that women going to a site where they’re there for a primary interest (rather than the kind of dating advice about “join a club/hobby group to meet people”) are not looking for dates, so they’re not sizing up the guys in the group as potential partners.

          And if it’s a majority male site, the guys may also not be thinking of it in terms of “possible romantic partners here” (well, not the straight guys anyway) so they’re less likely to try hitting on the women (especially if the women are very clear about “I’m not looking for a date, thanks but no thanks”).

          As well, the anonymity/nicknames used on here mean that most people can’t be so easily identified re: gender so the risk of making an unwanted/boy did you pick the wrong person advance is higher.

        • I’ve wondered about the general issue in other contexts. You would think there would be an equilibrating mechanism for the gender ratio of groups. If there are more men than women, it’s an attractive place for women wanting to interact with men, less attractive for men wanting to interact with women, which should push up the number of women, and vice versa if there are more women than men.

          But either that effect doesn’t exist for some reason or it’s outweighed by the fact that some interests attract more men or more women, or there is a force in the other direction, where an environment with lots of men develops features that make it comfortable for men, less for women.

          The context where I have mostly thought about that is libertarianism, which tends to be male heavy. Any thoughts from others on places they have observed?

          • wanderingimpromptu says:

            > But either that effect doesn’t exist for some reason or it’s outweighed by the fact that some interests attract more men or more women


            And an opposing force is the fact that many/most people actively prefer to interact with those of the same gender. This is why same sex social activities (greek organizations, “girls/boys night out”) are so popular.

        • watsonbladd says:

          Be the change you want to see in the world.

    • sophiegrouchy says:

      I did it once, and the only replies I got were people who don’t know me telling me that my existence supported red pill theory (or something. It was quite a while ago). So personally, I anti-recommend it

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        TBH that is sort of making me want to post a classified ad. I’m polysaturated right now, so I have no interest in using personal ads for their intended purpose, but finding out how my existence supports redpill theory is always a delight.

      • Skivverus says:

        Went back and had a look at the post in question; couple possibly-non-obvious things struck me as reasons you might have gotten poor response quality.

        First, you posted relatively early in the thread (the day after): this gets more attention overall, which is good, but possibly disproportionately much of that attention is from low-effort/low-engagement people who are more likely to troll. (epistemic status: highly speculative)

        Second, 90%+ of SSC does not, in fact, live in New York City (going by meetups); implying (possibly unintentionally) or outright stating that you will not accept partners from elsewhere will silence the considerate people in that 90%, and potentially annoy the inconsiderate: less attention overall, but potentially more from trolls.

      • Deiseach says:

        I may be both mistaken and uncharitable, but my understanding of redpill theory is that it runs along the lines of “women are bitches and whores and shallow with it, they only want Alpha males and judge those by conventional standards of attractiveness, they are easily taken in by Bad Boys who look and act ‘cool’ but are nowhere near as good for/to them as a Nice Guy would be, they will get their claws into a Nice Guy to exploit him for money and security and to raise the children which may or may not be his – could be fathered by one of those Alphas – but reserve all their real interest and attempts to be sexually appealing for quickies and one night stands – which are all they can get from the Alphas – for the men who treat ’em mean and keep ’em keen. So since women are hypersexed and rather stupid and rely heavily on their looks and fleeting youthful attractiveness so they get desperate as they age, you gotta play the game to hook ’em, and this is how you do it”?

        • cassander says:

          the steelmanned version would be more like “most women have a specific type. In the past, their ability to chose men of that type was constrained by various societal practices, but those have largely gone out the window, so they are now free to indulge and do so, to the detriment of nice guys like you. If you want to succeed with women, you have to be able to do a passable imitation of that type until they become emotionally invested in you. This is how you do it.”

          I’m not endorsing this view, just trying to couch it sympathetically.

          • Deiseach says:

            A lot more sympathetic than I am, cassander. I think my main point of difference is with the amazement they seem to express that women, “their ability to chose men of that type was constrained by various societal practices” but now “free to indulge and do so”, will not pick them because they are not attracted to them, just like men would not pick a woman they are not attracted to.

            I’m sure some of the guys have women they would look at and go “No, don’t want her, she may be very nice but she’s dog-ugly”. And yet, that women would also pick on looks or other traits that they find appealing is perceived as some kind of outrage against nature and the order of the universe and an attack on nice men.

            No, women are people just like you, and will behave like people do.

          • cassander says:

            I don’t dispute what you say at all. But if we get everyone to acknowledge that, at the core, this is all about looking attractive to the opposite sex, then red pill team is just the male equivalent of a makeover crew, deserving neither praise nor opprobrium on a moral level.

          • rlms says:

            A relevant difference here is that I haven’t reported any (now deleted) rude and objectionable comments from makeover crews on this thread, and indeed can’t recall ever doing so on any SSC post.

          • cassander says:


            I’d say that has a lot more to do with our demographics than the inherent moral virtue of makeover crews

          • Let me try to steelman Cassander’s point in response to Deiseach.

            The social practices in question were functional ones, pressuring women to end up with the sort of men who would stay married to them and help rear and support their children. Women, for reasons that can perhaps be explained by evolution optimizing against a very different environment in the distant past, had preferences for men who were unlikely to do so.

            Changes in social practice–reliable contraception, easy divorce, disappearance of social stigma associated with non-marital sex–left women free to (imprudently) act on their innate preferences. That was unfortunate. Given that it happened, men who want wives have to pretend to be the kind of men who don’t in order to get them.

            For an analogous argument in the other direction, consider the dumb blond stereotype, the idea that men are attracted to women who are physically attractive but lacking in other characteristics that would lead a successful long term relationship. Hence, it is sometimes argued, smart women find it prudent to conceal their intelligence–precisely equivalent to the red pill argument on how men should behave to attract women.

            This is actually a minor plot element in a Heinlein novel (Starman Jones).

          • engleberg says:

            The steelwoman pro-redpill argument is that guys should have the chops to flirt a little talking to girls, just as we should wash that nasty ass before meeting girls. If we need a he-manly no girls allowed totes not perfumed just scented soap, beats stinking up the place. As to the at-risk hordes of helpless females flattened like pancakes by internet PUA skillz, the girls I go with are kind of cocky. Indeed, so are the ones who wouldn’t in billions and billions of years. It’s as if most girls picked up better social skills than most guys by second grade or something.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that it’s pretty obvious that people are not just attracted to personality, but also to other traits, which is supposedly more selfish/objectionable. Somehow, it is generally considered to be perfectly acceptable to point this out when men do it, but when it is pointed out that women do it too, this tends to be considered hateful towards women. Being an egalitarian, I reject this sexism.

            I also think that the people who immediately label heterodox arguments as “Red Pill”, are both tabooing the topic in their environment and are advertising for ‘Red Pill’, which I think is unwise. Isn’t it better to legitimize moderate debate? When moderate people get taboo policing, they tend to get pushed into ghettos, where the more skeptical & moderate voices are absent. Then you get an environment like Reddit’s Red Pill.

      • balrog says:

        I have just reread your post and this is how it looks like:

        -34 F
        OLD, well into MILF age, will probably attract younger kids with MILF fethish.

        -I’m inclined towards polyamory, could compromise towards monogamish, but absolutely would NOT break up with either of my two secondaries (both of those relationships are asexual, if that’s relevant)
        I’m inclining towards not giving all attention to one person, also I tend to not give sex a lot, and possibly demand stuff for it.

        -Moderately attractive
        Ugly (or very insecure, but noone thinks of that)

        -Sub (or vanilla. Not a Domme.)
        I’m into BDSM, and want to be slapped, whipped, tied or whatever BDSM folk do.

        So your post looks like: “Ugly submissive cuckold MILF looking for a long term relationship”.

        To me, your post looked either like a troll or very had core fetishist. And if you don’t want to be perceived like that, you should really change your description of yourself.

        • rlms says:


          • quanta413 says:

            Oh I figured it out!

            “This is the kind of crap I’d like to see less of on Slate Star Codex.”

            It’s like we’re on the same wavelength.

          • rlms says:

            Content rather than crap as per the original, but yours is accurate too.

          • quanta413 says:

            You say tuh-may-toe. I say tuh-mah-toe.

            Also. Original? I don’t know/remember what the original reference is; I had to think very hard for a minute to figure it out. Enlighten me please.

          • rlms says:

            I think Scott made the original comment regarding some objectionable but not banworthy material. Other people have since used it, either in the same way or as an intentional understatement in relation to obviously terrible content.

        • Ozy Frantz says:

          Congratulations, you have correctly worked out that you don’t want to date Sophie, because you don’t share her preferred relationship style or sexual interests and you are unattracted to people of her age. Since her ad did not say anything along the lines of “my ideal partner is SSC commenter balrog and I am particularly seeking advice about how I can change everything I want in a relationship in order to ensure that I am attractive to him specifically,” I am not sure why you feel this opinion is relevant.

          • I assumed his point was not merely that she wasn’t his type but that her description made her sound like a type that very few men would want to date.

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            I mean, sure, but she’s looking for a primary partner. Much better to turn off 99.9% of men and find the 0.1% of men who are looking for what you have to offer than to get into a fundamentally incompatible relationship.

          • Aapje says:

            We really need a name for that strategy IMO. It’s useful beyond dating.

        • Vanessa Kowalski says:

          So, you are an immature loser that gets off on trying to humiliate strangers on the Internet. Perhaps you are even sincere that you find Sophie’s ad unappealing, but Sophie is not targeting this demographic anyway.

        • balrog says:

          Woah, condescending much. I really like how it is not ok for me to tell how I read someones post since it is “offending”, but is ok to be told that my opinion is crap, irrelevant and that I’m immature loser who gets off on humiliating other people.

          As David noted, this is person not many people will want to date (which is ok, but you are definitely in negative signal-to-noise space). And more over, people who like to date “34 F SUB” people, tend not to be on compassionate part of spectrum.

          On top of that add noise when you say contradictory stuff like: “I want to have 6 dates in a week with three different people and I will withhold sex from two of them” and some people will feel offended (in moral police way), and you might really want to rework your advertising skills instead of bashing people who try to give constructive (albeit hard-to-swallow) advice.

          • sophiegrouchy says:

            So it turns out that the thing that bothers me the most about this is that everyone assumes that *I* am “withholding” sex from my partners when in actuality it is my partners who are uninterested in sex.

            (ETA- For the other comments, my age is just a true fact and if you think I’m old then I think you’re too young. I am 100% certain that I’m not ugly. Yup, I like a bit of kink (but also do fine without it), and it is weird to me that that seems to bother you so much, but you do you.)

          • Aapje says:


            So it turns out that the thing that bothers me the most about this is that everyone assumes that *I* am “withholding” sex from my partners when in actuality it is my partners who are uninterested in sex.

            May I suggest that you incorrectly judge the many by the few? I actually see only 2 people who claimed that you do that (1 here and 1 in the original classified ads thread where you posted your ad). I don’t think that is sufficient evidence to claim that everyone thinks that. I did not form that conclusion at the time, for example.

            In general, my initial response to your ad was to seek clarification, because I read your ad as also being addressed to non-polygamous people (specifically the bit about wanting to consider to be monogamous). Your ad was filled with polygamy jargon and seemed to assume that the other person would be able to make a decision based on that. I thought that was incorrect for most monogamous people who aren’t very familiar with polygamy and that it would be helpful to you if you elucidated and also enlightening to me.

            Given your later response, you seemed to disagree on this or at least not see it the way I do, but I don’t think that my question was out of line with the information I had at the time.

            I do regret my second comment in that thread, which was a generic musing and not intended as a statement of agreement with the implied judgment of the person I replied to, although it could be read that way, which I noticed later when I could no longer remove it. If I insulted you there, then I apologize.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor, and I have banned Balrog indefinitely for directly insulting another commenter, on a thread about how annoyed she was about other people insulting her before. This kind of thing will not be allowed to pass.

    • shakeddown says:

      “Personal ads only if you’re into guys”, Scott mandated.

      • Roxolan says:


      • Deiseach says:

        That is the kind of pun for which hanging is too good.

        • theredsheep says:

          I once tried to craft a convoluted joke about the gay community in China, where the punchline would have been “mandate of heaven.” I decided it was too contrived even to merit a groan, so the world was spared.

          • engleberg says:

            No, ‘mandate of heaven’ has real promise. Work it some more, you could get a vermilion decree swaying the unspared wide world here. ‘Treat em mean, keep em keen’ was good too.

      • TheStoryGirl says:

        Thanks for the official word!

        I think I’ll prep something fresh for the next Classified ad round, and hop in then!

        • quaelegit says:

          Sorry if I’m just making everything worse by explaining the joke, but from you’re comment it sounds like you misunderstood Shakedown’s post. The post is a riff on Tom Swifties (see http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/14/fifty-swifties/) which are somewhat popular around here. (The joke is mandated = man-dated).

          That said based on previous posts in Classified threads you should be fine posting dating ads/requests (whether seeking men or not).

      • ajar says:

        I saw your post below and figured my thoughts might be useful. You want practical advice?
        -listen to the other person
        -ask them questions to understand what they think and how they think
        -don’t assume, but if you assume, do so with skepticism and ask questions to the other person to better understand them and their perspective
        -recognize your own inadequacies/differences/whatever and be honest about them, with yourself and anyone you want to share yourself with
        -use the advice giving potential of the internet or feedback from real people in your life to evaluate situations. This would help you develop a better understanding of your tendencies and problematic behaviors. Of course, this only works if you trust others and don’t believe you’re always right…

    • wanderingimpromptu says:

      Well, as a straight woman, I’d never post a dating personal here. There are too many guys with hangups about women. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of amazing things about this community, but the attitude towards women is not one of them.

      • cassander says:

        I find this attitude puzzling. Maybe I’m projecting, but this feels to me like not going to restaurant whose food you really like because the waitstaff is rude. Really good food (read, intellectually interesting people) is hard to find, and the point of going out. Don’t get me wrong, the waitstaff isn’t right to be rude, they should be better, but if the food is good, isn’t it worth putting up with the lousy staff?

        I mean, if you get a bunch of missives from people with unhealthy attitudes, you can just ignore them, the only cost is the few minutes it takes to sort through them to get to the people who are actually interesting. Or are you saying that the issue isn’t the great deal of noise, but the lack of signal?

        • melolontha says:

          Couple of possibilities:

          – being bombarded by dickheads might be more unpleasant than you think, to the point of outweighing the (probably quite small in absolute terms) chance of finding someone good;

          – not every dickhead will reveal the relevant aspects of his personality in his opening message. If the base rate of dickheads is high, and only (say) half of them are easily identifiable as such, you could easily find yourself engaged in a longer and more costly interaction with one of them by mistake.

          • quanta413 says:

            Just as a datapoint, I would personally find the bombardment way more unpleasant in this particular case than I would for not-dating things. I’ll go to the mat over some bullshit about tax rates or whatever. But I’d rather douse my hand in alcohol and light my hand on fire for a few seconds than deal with obnoxious comments about sex/gender directed at me. And yes, I have lit my hand on fire on accident for a few seconds once, so I mean this literally*.

            I’ve never even tried online dating because it looks like such a cesspool of bad behavior. People are usually pretty well behaved in real life on the other hand.

            *It turns out that the alcohol burns off quickly but your hand doesn’t heat up too fast so actually it’s not that unpleasant as long as you put the fire out before too long. I may be exaggerating slightly about dousing as well.

          • cassander says:

            The second part makes sense to me, someone seems perfectly fine, you talk, you decide in the negative and then you get a bunch of rants about how you’re a…..whatever the vogue insult is. That can suck up a fair bit of time of time and end unpleasantly.

            I have a harder time wrapping my head around the first. The bombardment in this case consists of a bunch of emails from people you’ll never meet. I’m going to go ahead and assume that no one is giving out their primary email address, so all you have to do is swipe left and they’re gone forever. It’s not even as bad as a homeless person begging for change, because it’s not a face to face interaction. I have a hard time seeing how bad it could possibly be. I don’t mean to imply that you or wanderingimpromptu is wrong to feel the way you do, just that I find it puzzling. contra quanta413, I couldn’t care less what some random internet asshole has to say about my sexuality.

          • quanta413 says:


            It’s probably partly to do with the fact that I don’t think it’s that urgent or that hard to find a suitable partner somewhere that is unlikely to involve any unpleasant experiences outside of polite rejection or ordinary relationship problems.

            I find internet assholes more unpleasant in certain situations than others. It’s not just a sex thing per se. I really liked league of legends but partly got sick of playing it for a while because the vitriol was just turned up to 11 way too often. When I’m looking to argue I expect to deal with some rudeness and maybe downright cruelty. But when I’m looking to relax, it’s really tedious to sift through a bunch of unnecessary bullshit. There are so many fun things where that factor can be set to 0.

          • cassander says:


            thanks, that makes more sense to me now.

          • toastengineer says:

            being bombarded by dickheads might be more unpleasant than you think, to the point of outweighing the (probably quite small in absolute terms) chance of finding someone good;

            Yeah, I have to second this from the other side of the dividing line; you think you can just ignore the cruelty and focus on the nice people, because after all the nice people are the vast majority – but nice people don’t put much energy in to being nice, and the people who see another person opening up as an opportunity to attack them are going to all jump out in front of them at once.

            Of the, say, 5,000 good men\women seeing a personals post, maybe 0.001% are gonna say “yeah, I could get to that person’s area, and they seem like a nice fit, and I’m not being an asshole for approaching this person with my terrible worthless self.” Of the ~30 terrible sacks of shit, 100% of them are immediately gonna say “GASPERASP! AN OPPORTUNITY TO HARM A MEMBER OF MY OUTGROUP!” and dogpile you.

            So you get 30 “how dare you exist where I can see you” type responses immediately and 5 ‘hi’ messages spread out over the course of the proceeding weeks.

          • cassander says:


            I don’t imagine the nice people are a majority at all. i’m assuming that most won’t be nice, but who cares? all you have to do is hit delete or block and they go away forever.

          • TheStoryGirl says:


            I’m actually with you on this one. I’m utterly indifferent to the personal commentary of random strangers, and so puzzled by other people’s reactions to them that I’m starting to wonder if I’m in one of Scott’s Different Worlds.

            For example, I read several advice blogs (Captain Awkward, etc) and am consistently puzzled whenever advice-askers report feeling personally, emotionally intruded-on by commentary from strangers (or even acquaintances, or enemies(!!!)). I literally don’t understand why that’s a thing, because anything said to me goes through a little multi-stage filter before it gets to my core (or at least, it feels like it does):

            First, if it’s commentary by someone who clearly doesn’t have the knowledge or skillset to make an accurate observation and judgment about me, it need not be considered at all (this is most people, particularly strangers).

            Then, if the commentary is accurate, it must be accepted and action taken to correct the issue, if possible, or resignedly apologized for, if not. Accepting accurate negative commentary about myself is both a goal and a personal virtue, so the end result of hearing it is actually quite positive. “Congratulations, self! We heard some negative commentary about us, and bore it with admirable grace and humility! We’re good! High-five!”

            If, on the other hand, the commentary is inaccurate, then it’s utterly irrelevant and incapable of doing any emotional harm, anyway.

            I literally don’t understand the experience of people who don’t have this filter on incoming stimuli. I don’t understand women who internalize being catcalled, be it on the street or in their inbox. Depending on circumstances, I understand feeling threatened or fearful, sure. But “objectified,” or “humiliated?” I just don’t get it. The words themselves don’t matter and they’re coming out of people who don’t matter. How can it possibly matter? Or because I’m possibly kind of a solopsistic dickhead myself: Stop letting it matter!

          • cassander says:


            I feel I’m in exactly the same boat. Personally and professionally, I have a much easier time with criticism than praise. with praise, you have to do a complicated social dance where you deprecate the praise, but not too much, while wondering if the person in question actually means it or is saying it for some other reason.

            criticism, that comes from an irrelevant place is meaningless, and if it comes from a relevant place, I probably want to stop fucking up whatever I’m doing. the only exception I routinely encounter is repeated unfair criticism from someone I can’t tell off, for example, by boss has spent the last few months telling me “I told you so” about something I told her I knew was an issue when I recommended we do it, and that I could manage the problem, and I have managed the problem. But that’s irritating, not humiliating. Her saying that annoys me because I knew it was a problem, said I could handle it, and did, and should be getting praise not criticism for calling it right.

        • wanderingimpromptu says:

          melolontha’s second point is correct. Aside from the outright rude and abusive ones, who are the minority, you usually can’t tell if someone has hangups about women immediately. A lot of guys who have emotional issues with women are also interesting and attractive and otherwise my type of people, and I don’t want to find out about their issues once I’m already emotionally invested.

          Also, my definition of “has hangups about women” is probably different from yours. For example, I’d say that many people who are strongly anti-feminist, even if they can justify it with reasonable arguments, are partially driven by emotional issues with women. I’m not talking about villains conspiring to hide their villainy, I’m talking regular folks who had some bad formative experiences with women/feminism. I sympathize, but I can’t handle that in a relationship.

          • cassander says:

            Maybe I’m reading to much into a slash, but I find it interesting that you lump together issues with women and issues with feminism. Do you not think it’s possible to have the later without the former?

          • wanderingimpromptu says:

            It’s possible, yes. Don’t get me wrong, I understand some anti-feminist impulses; I personally have a lot of issues with modern internet activism. But I find that people who are emotionally invested in being anti-feminist are more likely to have issues with women than those who aren’t. They’re separate but correlated things.

            Especially correlated when it comes to secular people, I think; it’s more common for religious people to be anti-feminist (in a way that a feminist might describe as benevolent sexism), but still have lots of warm positive associations with women. But you really get vitriol from the MRA/alt-right/and yes, LW aligned folks. Grey Tribe anti-feminism just tends to come from an angrier, rawer place than Red Tribe anti-feminism. I could speculate on why — I think it’s a really interesting phenomenon. And it’s related to why liberal journalists perceive nerd culture as being particularly sexist, when nerds profess fewer outright sexist views than rednecks. (Proximity & bias against weird people also contribute.)

            But yes, you can be strongly anti-feminist without being anti-woman, just like you can be strongly anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, but brains aren’t good at keeping emotions perfectly separate like that.

          • cassander says:

            I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. But the very fact that vitriol in question tends to come from bitter personal experience tends to earn some sympathy from me. See thaenskeld’s (sp?) story from a few open threads back, for example. More often than not these are people who thought they were doing everything right, trying their best to do good, only only to get horribly burned by people they thought were their friends. It doesn’t take seeing much of that, much less have it happen to you, to start to doubt the wisdom of the culture that’s producing it.

            that said, sympathy is not a synonym for “want to date”. I don’t blame the abused dog for biting, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend the time and energy to rehabilitate it.

          • wanderingimpromptu says:


          • Null42 says:

            ” Grey Tribe anti-feminism just tends to come from an angrier, rawer place than Red Tribe anti-feminism.”

            I suspect Red Tribe antifeminists are still at least partially hooked into the whole Christian belief system, where celibacy (voluntary or otherwise) isn’t the end of the world, and in fact has spiritual advantages. If you’re a foreveralone Christian, at the very least Jesus loves you, and if you lead a Godly life there is no reason to feel inferior to someone with relationships. The condition of your soul is much more important anyway. (It’s funny to think how modernity may be less kind to some personality types than some older systems of thought, isn’t it?)

            But if you’re Gray Tribe, you’re just missing out, and you see everyone else in the fleshpots of Manhattan or San Francisco having a good time. There is no transcendence, no higher order that can be right when the common order of sex and money has gone wrong for you. Forget any 60s-ish promise of freedom and love, for in the grim present of the 21st century there is only work. There is no self-actualization, only a lifetime of struggle in a dead-end job, and the laughter of corporate executives.

          • Null42 says:

            “But yes, you can be strongly anti-feminist without being anti-woman, just like you can be strongly anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, but brains aren’t good at keeping emotions perfectly separate like that.”

            Nietzsche’s distinction between opposing Jewish ethics and actual physical Jews is a trivial one for a philosopher (he wrote some nasty letters to Wagner on the subject if I recall) and a little difficult for lots of ordinary people. I have my own issues with feminism, but I suspect they are not entirely separable from a lack of success with the opposite sex; charming fellows who are successful with women can often talk around the current ideology (just as they would have talked around religious objections in an earlier era) and are not likely to get very upset, simply seeing it as one of those things you work around. If a guy spends all his time complaining about feminism, odds are he’s got some issues with women in general and if you’re a woman you’d probably be wise to steer clear, even if you agree with him on those issues. Ideological agreement does not mean romantic compatibility.

            Israel’s a bit of a different case as most people have interaction with the opposite sex in everyday life but have little cause to get exercised over the Middle East unless they work there. There’s a weird sort of crossover as the Palestinian cause appeals to people on the left who want to side with the oppressed nonwhite people against the oppressive white people and people on the right who want to fight the evil, manipulative nonwhite people who have taken another hapless group of nonwhite people as their target. My vague impression is that you can escape hatred despite being of Jewish ancestry with the pro-Palestinian left, but not the pro-Palestinian right, if you can convince them you are nonetheless anti-Zionist.

          • Aapje says:


            Zionism is not Jewish ethics, as there are and always have been non-Zionist Jews. Feminism is also not female ethics, as there are and always have been non-feminist women.

            Furthermore, there are plenty of non-Jewish Zionists and male feminists, so I don’t see why a dislike of the ideology would automatically have to mean a dislike of Jews or women, specifically. Even if the dislike of the ideology cannot be distinguished from the person, would this not more logically lead to general misanthropy or if the dislike is more targeted, dislike of the people in a certain group (like Jews in Israel or college students)?

            Arguably, some level of misanthropy is quite healthy, as we see in people who suffer from Williams Syndrome.

            I personally try to combine a moderate level of misanthropy with relatively high empathy for individuals. In other words, I try to see the humanity in everyone, no matter how misguided and/or selfish I think they are.

          • shakeddown says:

            So I have to ask: I’m pretty sure I have emotional hangups with women. I can see the perspective of not wanting to date someone like that, because it’s not women’s responsibility to “fix” me, but what actual, practical solution can I have? Best I can do is “be otherwise interesting and attractive enough to catch someone’s initial interest, and when we get to where my hangups come up, make a genuine effort to deal with them constructively”. I can’t just undo hangups by introspection (I’ve tried).

        • Deiseach says:

          if the food is good, isn’t it worth putting up with the lousy staff?

          (a) “Yeah, the waiter blew his nose on my shirt-tails, and the manager called me a [expletive expletive expletive expletive] when I rang up to make a reservation, and the waitress made my guest cry because of what she said about their appearance, dress and demeanour, and the cook said “Good, I hope you choke to death and die horribly” when I mentioned that I have coeliac disease and when I went to pay, they stuck on a 40% surcharge for ‘having to tolerate an asshole like you stinking up our nice restaurant’ but the food was good! Once they actually served me, which they did last out of the ninety other people, including twenty customers who arrived after I did. So I think I’ll probably definitely be returning, once the burns from when the waiter deliberately tipped the scalding-hot soup on me heal! ‘Cos I’ve just bought this brand-new flamethrower and I’m itching to try it out!”

          (b) “I went home and everyone there was horrible to me and I don’t know why, I am the same as I always was, I really felt unwelcome and I think maybe they don’t want me to come visit anymore? So I guess I probably won’t go back for Grandma’s birthday, they kind of hinted they didn’t want to see me there anyway”

          My own personal feeling is that a lot of people who regularly hang around here, it feels more like (b) than (a) and that’s why it’s not worth putting up with the hassle from those who like to tell you in detail why you are the face of all that is wrong with the world today.

          Like, I have no interest at all in dating any person of any gender whatsoever, and I’ve had some tilts with guys on here expressing “what do women really want?” with opinions which have left me in the mindset “men – do we really need them? that much? in today’s technologically advanced world? would it be so terrible if they were all nuked into a pile of ash, every last one of them, the bastards?”

    • Well... says:

      The other comments about this above are good. My perspective as a happily married guy is that I’m perfectly fine not reading any personals ads on here, but those that do get posted might get read (but at least by me, not responded to) for potential entertainment value.

      • In my case, less entertainment than information. Part of what I enjoy here is how many people there are who are very different from me in their life pattern, view of the world.

        The word is no doubt full of people very different from me, but I don’t usually have such a good opportunity to hear their voices.

    • Null42 says:

      As you can see from the responses, the large number of straight guys reading the blog means, ‘sure, go ahead, but you’re probably going to get mostly guys, so if you’re a straight guy don’t bother’. (In your case, I’m guessing you should go for it.)

      So question for the straight guy majority: have any techniques of self-improvement *actually worked* for you in this arena? Acting more macho, being more sensitive, being a PUA, being a feminist, working out, just being yourself? Has anyone actually tried anything and had it work? What’s worked for people nerdy enough to read SSC for kicks? That last one’s important as I would imagine different techniques work for different people.

      • I haven’t done any experimenting along those lines, but my casual impression is that I was more attractive to women when I wasn’t looking, most obviously in the period after I had decided I wanted to marry Betty and before she had decided she wanted to marry me, than earlier when I was.

      • quanta413 says:

        Whether you are a guy or a gal looking for a guy or a gal, taking up rock climbing can’t possibly fail to make you sexually more attractive. Not only that – but never again will you get stuck with nothing to talk about with some boring person who doesn’t care about intellectual or nerdy things.

        Even the easier stuff that my average physique could do after climbing about twice a week for a year (and I haven’t improved a lot since then) sounds and looks a lot more impressive than it is. You might be a total gumby by the standards of a mountaineer or a competitive climber but you can still look awesome to someone who hasn’t climbed before.

        And crucially for the SSC nerd, trad climbing has all sorts of gear and technique for hopelessly obsessive nerds to argue to the death about in a lingo utterly inscrutable to any outsiders.

        • Aapje says:

          Even the easier stuff that my average physique could do after climbing about twice a week for a year (and I haven’t improved a lot since then) sounds and looks a lot more impressive than it is.

          I think that’s true for most sports. Being able to cycle for >100 km seems to impress most people, including those who put quite a bit of effort into a different sport.

          • quanta413 says:

            I agree. But not all sports give the same impression of daring. I think rock climbing scores highly there. Also, I think a rock climbing physique will probably be more attractive on average than a cycling physique (of course, plenty of people do both), but that may just be my personal tastes in men and women.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        So question for the straight guy majority: have any techniques of self-improvement *actually worked* for you in this arena? Acting more macho, being more sensitive, being a PUA, being a feminist, working out, just being yourself? Has anyone actually tried anything and had it work? What’s worked for people nerdy enough to read SSC for kicks? That last one’s important as I would imagine different techniques work for different people.

        In terms of self-improvement techniques that have actually worked for me, an SSC reader / commenter:

        In terms of diet and exercise, when I was morbidly obese I started cooking for myself and doing daily 30 min bodyweight exercises on a tabata timer. I lost roughly 50-70 lbs that way over a year or so. Then I started weight lifting and went on a ketogenic diet which dropped another 20-30 lbs while gaining muscle and I’ve been around that weight since. Recently I’ve added morning runs but it doesn’t seem to be doing much.

        I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing about it at this point but learning (day) game really helped me romantically. Specifically I recommend Roosh V’s Bang and Day Bang although they’re somewhat old at this point. It’s the kind of dating advice I desperately wished I could get growing up.

        I also recommend getting a full night’s sleep, ideally the same schedule every day. When I was able to do so before grad school it was probably the #1 most important thing for maintaining my mental health and focus.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Online dating with “just be yourself”. Spurned with extreme prejudice the usual advice of “gotta get your numbers up, bro” – I’d read and re-read profiles and, if they actually seemed like a good match, send a Real Fucking Introduction, with paragraphs and shit. Found The One after ~a dozen misses and misfires over 1-2 years of effort.

  58. cultureulterior says:

    I’m looking for a Senior/Lead DevOps engineer in LA[US] & Sofia[Bulgaria], as well as a Mid/Junior DevOps engineer in Tallinn & Vilnius

  59. Silverlock says:

    I saw in a small dustup on Twitter where someone was castigated for denying an increase in racism and Antisemitism since Trump’s election. Are there any decent numbers on the truth or lack thereof of such a rise?

    • Silverlock says:

      Just checked back on this and realized I had posted it on the Classified thread. Sorry, folks. I’ll repost it at some point on a more appropriate thread.

  60. Hamish Todd says:

    Would be interested to hear thoughts on this: viruspatterns.com – it’s about viruses, and it’s an “interactive documentary”. I am a biologist who used to work in the games industry, so it tells you about viruses while letting you generate models of them. Desktop / tablet rather than smartphone.

    I released it a while ago and it got a bit of traffic but not much, so it didn’t really get much “criticism”. It’s a very new kind of thing and what I want to know is where folks feel positively about the “interactive documentary” format.

    • blackmountainradioblog says:

      This was fun. Then again, I’m a med student, so looking at viruses is much more my idea of fun than most peoples. Also, I like the way you say “soccer ball.”

      It was kind of confusing to only be able to click on the youtube video to advance the whole presentation. I thought I was going to break something by clicking that half of the screen rather than the side with the 3d model on it.

    • Craig Falls says:

      I enjoyed it. Relevant to my interests.

      Initially I made the mistake of trying to press the “play” button and accidentally rewound the video to near the beginning. Later I realized I could press anywhere on the video to play/pause it.

    • qwitwa says:

      This is cool but I nearly closed the tab at the beginning. You open with a random fact about the zika virus and start listing viruses without indicating that any time investment is going to repaid; I found your voice kinda slow, so I skipped forwards in the video once your started talking about your dad, missing the first interaction point at about 42s in. As a result, I landed on more comparisons to human stuff that I thought seemed pretty vague and wasn’t useful to me because I didn’t really know what viruses looked like at that point, and nearly went back to other internet distractions.

      If you’d opened the video at 42s in I would have been greeted within 3 seconds with an interactive model (instead of faces that seemed disconnected from what you were saying), and would have very quickly understood what sort of experience I was in for. I do think some of the stuff in the intro is a little fluffy, but I’d have been willing to sit through it if I’d been given an immediate taste of what to expect if I kept going.

      I’m still playing through it at the minute. The actual interactive sections are really good (with the exception of my mouse sometimes feeling a little sticky when rotating the models?) and the Zika model is particularly interesting.

      When you click and rotate the mouse the zika model seems to rumble in an annoying way that makes it slightly harder to see the shape change. Sometimes you put something on the screen to copy from but the video pauses slightly after it on your face; I noticed this mostly on the zika section.

      As for the format itself, I feel extremely positively about it. I think it’s great. Unrelated to the format, I found the part where you were shaking the magnets in the clear ball particularly effective at conveying a core idea (that viruses are the way they are because fragments shaped that way can easily self-assemble) in just a second or two.

      Having now finished, I think you could remove the comparison to human things from the opening because it’s repeated twice elsewhere (once with the individual viruses and once at the end as part of your conclusion). Especially in the case of the Islamic art, I think it’d be more delightful, because I initially rolled my eyes thinking you were making a very vague comparison, whereas looking at the tile patten as you talk about the specific mosque it’s from and I play with the 3D model is a much more concrete experience, so the earlier allusion didn’t really work for me as a tease of things to come. I’m not sure I have much useful to say about what content I’d /add/ to your introduction though.

    • Katja Grace says:

      I like the interactive documentary format, and so far have found the actual content pretty interesting. I would have liked it to be even more interactive, and there were a few things I would edit. I watched two viruses worth of it.

  61. whynotqat says:

    Hey all, my sister is a massage therapist who is interested in the way people with autism experience massage. Specifically, she’d like to talk to a few people with autism who have worked with massage therapists about their experiences and insights. Any general advice folks might have to offer on this would also be appreciated. Feel free to get in touch at relaxingintoneutral[at]gmail.com.

    • US says:

      FWIW, if you don’t get any replies or messages one part of the reason might be that autistics might be self-selecting out of such therapies. I don’t like people touching me and I very rarely give people the option of doing it (I sometimes go months without being touched by another human being). I think allowing people to touch you may in general be a much bigger deal for at least some subset of autistics than it is for most neurotypicals. This may go far beyond (‘)simple(‘) touch sensitivity. (This at least might be something to have in mind for your sister).

      Relatedly, I imagine there’s a large amount of variation in terms of how people with autism experience something like that. Asking those of them capable of providing verbal feedback explicitly about their preferences is probably a good idea. Closed questions will sometimes in this particular setting be preferable to more open questions; being very specific and concrete may be helpful. Those who are not able to provide verbal feedback may still give clues as to their preferences, and the fact that those clues may be all your sister has to work with may in such a setting be important for her to keep in mind.

  62. duk3luk3 says:

    Work wanted (remote only, software engineering / devops / ops): I am a computer development and operations generalist working as a freelance consultant from Melbourne, Australia. Most of my work can be classified as “linux devops”: Managing linux VMs and associated infrastructure services, plus coding and setting up new infrastructure as needed, mostly in on-prem cloud environments using Ubuntu Server LTS.

    My main programming language is python, I am also comfortable with C# and can hack on C++, JS, RoR, PHP. I am absolutely happy and eager to work with new languages / stacks as needed.

    I’m not a web frontend dev. I simply lack the talent and/or willpower to figure out how to create nice websites. Everything but the frontend you can count on me for.

    I also do electronics and hold a related Guinness World Record.

    One of my main clients that I have been working around 30hrs/wk for may not renew their contract after January, so I am looking for a new gig. Happy to do smaller gigs as well.

    I also contribute to open-source software. I am open to discounting my rates for work on open-source software.

    More Information about me:

    CV (Slightly outdated)

    If you are at all intrigued, contact me via email at jobs@lerlacher.de.
    If you are intrigued but want to see some concrete evidence of my skills outside of my open-source work, I have a portfolio that I can send you privately that goes into more detail than what I can share publicly.

  63. cassander says:

    Do you know a lot about military aircraft in general and the US defense budget in particular? Do live in the DC area and want to work at one of the most prestigious aviation publications in the world? Do you like counting things? Well I’m going to be looking to hire a new US defense analyst and aircraft fleet tracker in the next couple months. If you’d like to know more please either respond here with some contact information or email me at cursedcassander@gmail.com. Be forewarned, I get a lot of junk at that email address, so If I don’t respond, feel free to ping me again, assuming I don’t get an avalanche of responses, to respond to anyone who writes me, so if you don’t get a response, ping me again.

  64. Alex Zavoluk says:

    If you are a front-end, back-end, or full-stack engineer, product/program manager, devops, cloud engineer, UI/UX designer, network engineer, or security engineer, Indeed Prime might be fore you! Indeed Prime highlights high-quality technical candidate for employers. Average time-to-hire is 24 days. You can sign up here: https://prime.indeed.com/refer/c-wuXRwt3

    You should have at least 1 year of experience and be willing to work in one of the primary markets listed here: https://www.indeed.com/prime

  65. t mes says:

    Looking for solidity programmers to write a simple smart contract. Competitive pay, equity available. Project is well funded. Inquire at tylermeservy at gmail dot com.

  66. abcdefg says:

    I specialize in designing custom research and analytic tools, especially for organizations seeking new and interesting ways to communicate quantitative successes to their clients / customers / donors. I also work on mapping/GIS projects, cloud setup/utilization, and am available for trainings, especially focused on R, automation, and statistics.

    Consultations are free, so if you’re interested, please message me through the contact form on my website: https://modernresearchconsulting.com/

  67. maximiliantiger says:

    Looking for outdoor rock climbing partners in the SF bay area. I can lead 5.10c/d sport climbs, maybe a little higher. I can teach you to sport climb (clean a route, rappel, etc.) if you can already gym climb (ideal spot for this is Cragmont Park in Berkeley). I could probably lead multi-pitch sport but I’ve only followed before.

    Mostly only available on weekends.

    Gear I have:
    – Gear for 4 people to sport climb, if everyone has their own shoes, harness and helmet (I have one extra helmet).
    – Pretty extensive trad rack (But I can’t lead trad yet, going to try to learn this year)
    – I don’t have a car, but I’ll split a car rental fee if you drive.

    Places I’ve climbed: Castle Rock, Mt Diablo, Pine Canyon, Mickey’s Beach, Cragmont Park, Toulumne Meadows, Devil’s Tower, Wild Iris, Ten Sleep


  68. James Banks says:

    Hey SSCers,

    I posted about my experimental greeting cards last time. I’ve been working on a new formulation of the same medicine: PDFs of the same 100+ cards that you can view and download for free, and print out on your own printer, and I happened to finish in time to sort of make this thread.

    For those in the Lettersphere (8.5″ x 11″ paper): here; for those in the Metricsphere (A4 paper): here.

  69. Inty says:

    I’m living in Cambridge, England and planning on moving house in mid-March in order to be closer to work. Do any SSC-readers expect to have a spare room opening up around then?

    About me:
    -I’m 24.
    -I work as a data analyst.
    -I’m a decent cook but I am a (bival)vegetarian.
    -I identify as an effective altruist.
    -I have a long-distance girlfriend whom I would have over approximately once every three weeks.
    -I think I’m a very typical SSC-reader.

    Ideally I’m looking for somewhere in the north end of Cambridge as I’ll be working near the science park. Single rooms are fine :).

  70. thesixthroc says:

    For filmmakers looking for projects:

    I happen to be aware that there is currently an opportunity to help David Deutsch (http://www.daviddeutsch.org.uk/) create a one-of-a-kind documentary on science, rationality and progress. See: David’s books, his Sam Harris appearances, (https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/surviving-the-cosmos), etc. If you have consumed his work, I imagine the best way to get started would be to contact him for details.

  71. BeefSnakStikR says:

    I’m looking to get into cryptocurrency. Does anyone want to sell me a starter pack of sorts?

    I live in Canada and the options in brokers are awful. I’m looking to spend around $20-30, just some to play around with, so I don’t really care about paying above the market price. I just don’t want to have to do the verification/ID process, or spend the minimum amounts that the brokers are asking for. I can pay by Paypal.

    If you don’t want my money, I’m a pretty decent artist and writer, so I can make a few Christmas cards or something for you.

    Or some combination of money or favours. Make me a deal.

    • Glen Raphael says:

      Do you have a smartphone? There’s a decent wallet app called “Abra” that you can install where you keep the stored value on your smartphone. In Canada they don’t yet support hooking up your Abra wallet to a bank or credit card but they *do* support sending and receiving bitcoin from third parties or making an ethereum wallet and transferring some bitcoin value into it. I believe they only need to know your phone number – you shouldn’t need to submit ID or get “approved” unless you’re doing extra-large or extra-frequent bank transactions, which wouldn’t apply to your situation.

      So…if you can install Abra and then send me some cash via PayPal I should be able to send you an appropriate amount of bitcoin. We could do this either non-anonymously but instantaneously using your phone number and the Abra network (their original use case for this feature was regular remittances to relatives in places like the Philippines) or quasi-anonymously as a standard bitcoin transaction (this option adds a small extra cost in both time and money for the miners to verify the transaction).

      (my paypal address is raphael at pobox dot com )

    • Tenacious D says:

      I’ve used QuickBT.com in the past. You can buy up to $200 at a time and payment options include Canadian debit cards. They take a 10% fee, I believe. You need to set up your own wallet to send it to; they don’t assist with any of that. The first time I used their site, I got a phone call (I think just to verify that I was a real person and not a bot) but that was the extent of the verification process. Subsequent purchases involved getting a text message at the same phone number with a one-time security code to type in to complete the transaction.

      Hope this helps!

  72. RebeccaCrowley says:

    Does anyone here hold the conviction that the notion of gender is bizarre? Is it radical to want to discard the whole gender debate as ill-conceived because who the hell gives a fuck about ‘gender’? I suspect I’m an ignorant, unsympathetic brat for not “getting it” – that people can feel like they’re a certain gender – but I just don’t. I really can’t get my head around it. Is my gender male because I don’t feel wrong in a male body? Because that’s all I can say: I don’t feel wrong. But I’d hate to say I identify as male just because I don’t feel wrong in my body, with my sexual organs. Is that a severe case of snobbish nitpicking? Do I have a third gender if I imagine I wouldn’t feel wrong in a female body either?
    I’d really like to understand.

    • sympathizer says:

      I think this may be a bad comment thread and should take place wherever sex-and-gender-open-thread discussions are supposed to be banished to. This is not an open thread, and your comment isn’t a classified ad.

      But for what it’s worth, since there’s no way to respond to this comment via a better venue:

      I feel “genderless” the same way, with a slight twinge of regret that I will never get to experience what having a female body feels like.

      I’ve never had a problem with “getting it”, though. I don’t know what makes me different from you in that regard (obligatory mind-killer options: “You don’t have empathy like I do”, or “You’re too privileged to understand”). I know a lot of people with strong gender identity, and a lot of trans people, who have been very open to me about their identity and experiences related to it.

      Or maybe it’s because I’ve always had this “what would being female be like” idea inside me.

      At any rate: I don’t think you should have to declare “I identify as male” to anyone unless you feel that way. At the same time, “the notion of gender is bizarre” is, to me, clearly not a useful statement unless you’re referring to a specific philosophy or doctrine of what exactly gender is. Sexual dimorphism, plus a huge spectrum of variations, is clearly a thing, and it is clear that this is linked to people’s identity in a big way. So I don’t know what exactly you mean by “gender debate”. It is, however, also clear that there are doctrines, and that people create political ideologies and culture wars around gender. These ideologies and culture wars, like all ideologies and culture wars, are wholly separate from what gender actually is.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      I suspect you meant to post this in a different thread.

      But, rather than answering this myself, I’ll just say, here’s a previous post on this matter: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/02/18/typical-mind-and-gender-identity/

      Also, here’s the original post of Ozy’s that it’s referencing, reposted on their new blog, now that Ozy’s old blog no longer exists: https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/cis-by-default/

    • RavenclawPrefect says:

      Edit: Failed to refresh page before posting, other comments appear to have covered mostly the same ground.

      I found this post to be very useful in giving a label how I feel about gender, and in doing so helping me understand what it is I lack that others find important (which in turn better informs one’s opinions about things like trans rights around that). See also this video by Vi Hart (though she doesn’t seem to know of the terminology). For some reason, cis-by=default-ness seems to be massively overrepresented among inhabitants of the broader rationalist diaspora (at least in comparison to the experiences of people outside it whom I’m talked to about the subject).

      To elaborate a bit more on the application of “gender identity is a thing for some people” to various social-justice-y notions around gender identity: Many people do have a gender identity, in the sense that there is a way they conceive of what their body, genitals, outward appearance, mannerisms, interests, etc., ought or ought not to be, which is often closely tied up with a broad cluster of things in person-space that correlates well with what typically gets labeled “male” or “female.” (As always with describing any characteristic of humans ever, there are exceptions and caveats and not all of the above applies to everyone all of the time, but I don’t think this is too off the mark.)

      In some (not all) cases of people with a gender identity, there’s a sense in which possessing a certain set of primary and secondary sexual characteristics would feel very wrong, like you didn’t belong in your own body, which is called gender dysphoria. If you’re cis (with a strong sense of gender identity), this sense of wrongness applies to a sex that is not your own, and probably has little bearing on your day-to-day life. If you’re trans*, this experience is directed at your own body, which is highly unpleasant and thus motivates people to take such extreme steps as hormone replacement, surgery, and risking alienation from many of the people they most depend on. Why go to such trouble? Because for some people they really do care that much about ‘gender’, so understanding the significance of those feelings (if not their exact subjective character) is important to being a well-informed and compassionate individual within spaces trans people inhabit.

      *and experience gender dysphoria, which not all trans people do.

  73. Deiseach says:

    Speaking of solstices, the Winter Solstice from Newgrange will be livestreamed this year – Weds 20th/Thurs 21st December between 8:30 – 9:15 a.m. (that’s Irish time, I have no idea what that translates to in American time, conversion zones here).

    You can check it on the Youtube channel here – be warned, the notoriously fickle Irish weather may result in cloud and rain at the precise time they are hoping to glimpse the sun (plainly they hope that by streaming two days they will get at least one good day – the mad fools!)

    But on the off-chance that it manages not to rain for half an hour in December, you can always tune in to see!

  74. alexei says:

    I’m renting out my room for the month of January (and possibly longer). Exact dates are flexible.
    * $966 / mo (+ some utilities) (This is negotiable!)
    * Be a part of a 7 bedroom rationalist house in Berkeley.
    * My roommates are great. Some of them work for MIRI.
    * It’s a pretty quiet area, and the walls are decently sound proof.
    * I’m leaving all my furniture and stuff here. You’re welcome to sleep in my bed, use by table, etc…
    * Once I’m back, you can move out or take over the lease.

  75. sunnydestroy says:

    I have a small blog on popular comics, sci-fi, anime, related media (TV, movies, games), and geeky culture things like comic cons.

    Tone is a bit irreverent. It’s mostly just me and 2 friends writing stuff and we’ve been doing it for less than a year.

    I’m wondering if anyone might want to write and post something about those topics. Honestly, I can’t offer much besides your ability to plug whatever in your post and like a cheap lunch. Yeah, I know that’s shitty, but I just thought I’d put it out there. Email contact info is on the site.

  76. ajar says:

    Is anyone located in the Princeton area and interested in meeting for tea and conversation?