Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Why write?

I haven't posted anything of substance here in a long time. Life has been weird since a couple days after my September 2014 post. I'm in a mind state I've been in before, and I'll work through it eventually, but during this time I'm just not capable of caring about much of anything beyond what I deem necessary in order to get to tomorrow, so my actions are limited.

I'd like to write more. I enjoy playing with ideas, not necessarily taking them seriously, but sometimes updating to some conclusion that results from playing. For example, it's kind of fun to think about ideas that would make big democratic governments work more efficiently, And by exploring that thought-space, one can arrive at conclusions where doing X is significantly better than doing Y, even if this other totally different and opposing thing Z is better than all of them. It's like noticing that a flu is strictly a lot better than stomach cancer, even though they're both terrible and being healthy is totally superior. Except it's funner to work with more abstract things than sicknesses, and it becomes more exploratory that way (since things aren't self-evident, or "trivially derived from some framework but I'll never show you a proof"... you have to do work to explore), and in the end sometimes you'll have something you can reduce back to a less abstract belief or suggestion.

What little idea playing I've been doing lately has taken place mostly in the context of my head. And unsurprisingly, it has less quality. Writing (and the concurrent and following process of editing) creates a better environment for exploring, because you have to crystallize what exactly you're thinking and not just rely on your brain's intuition. I have many thoughts that are interesting, but not expressed in words, but then I forget about the thought because I didn't write it down.

Other thoughts I'd prefer not to trivially associate myself with at this time, because I live in a world where one is increasingly held accountable and faces severe consequences for mere thoughts, not actions or plans as has been the tradition. I like my job enough to continue desiring to do it, I'd prefer not to wind up like one of these guys because I say something some stranger wants to punish me for (whether serious or not, it doesn't matter the character of the thought behind the words to some groups of people, just that the thought happened!). I suspect there's enough content or association on this blog and other places I frequent for M. Richelieu to hang me, but it's not trivial to collect it. (As in, I don't have a single page that one can link to and say "Aha, this is enough to hang him!" At least I think I don't...)

There's something to be said about training your ability to intuit things, if such a thing can be trained. I'm not sure for myself. I have the bad habit that if I can intuitively feel how some problem can be solved, or I intuitively feel like I have an approximately correct answer, then I lose interest and don't want to do the actual cognitive work of finding out and verifying for sure. I'm not sure my actual ability to get the approximately correct answer is getting better or not, and for many things I don't even have a way to measure this because I never do the work of verification which would tell me how close I originally was. I think my approximate mental arithmetic is better than it was say, 5 years ago, and I only know that because I can easily say "Hi Galaxy..." and get my phone to tell me the full answer.

I have a model of part of my behavior which I call input/output mode, it characterizes my activities. I've wanted to write a little something about it for a while, so now's as good a time as any. (Tangentially I have a lot of subjects I'd like to write a little something about, but I still can't really get over the belief that my blog posts should be at least 3 paragraphs...)

In input mode, I'm reading, reflecting, pondering, avoiding other people, and from the outside it looks like I'm doing nothing. On bad times of input mode (which have been the majority these last few months), my choice of input is entertainment (movies, TV shows, games, reading easy short things like Hacker News comments or Twitter and sometimes writing short replies to people, or (because I often feel tired) simple dreaming), something that doesn't require too much thought. In output mode, I'm talking to people, producing things (writing, code, rap lyrics..), doing a job. On bad output times, I give the illusion of being busy by doing busywork, or taking longer than I normally would for a relatively straightforward task, or I simply switch to input mode for part of the day. I switch between these modes sometimes as much as several times a day, but I'd like to be in input mode as much as I can. Typically my days play out as: wake up in input mode, switch to output mode for my 8 hours of work (which may have brief periods of input mode where I need to learn something or am just taking a break), finish work and return to input mode all the way until I go to sleep and wake up again. My after-work output mode time has been relatively rare these past months, but I think it's starting to go up slightly again... To me even basic things like cooking, or leaving the house to get food, or cleaning, are output mode things. March was an interesting month because I moved, and moving requires a lot of output mode, but I was only able to muster it in significant quantities on the weekends or very late at night.

This post is just one of these rambling thought lines that I decided to write down, but I'm not going to spend much time editing or trying to morph it into a coherent point. It's just a ramble. Why write? It seems like a good idea at the time. I have a brief moment of after-work output mode, might as well use it.

Posted on 2015-04-23 by Jach

Tags: personal


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