This is a blog. For now, I aim to focus on the personal aspects (i.e. literally my own experience) of the issues I touch on. "Everyone is a local thinker," and I'd like to use this space to understand where I'm coming from. Along the way, I hope to hit some veins of insight — topics where deeper exposition or exploration from me would make a meaningful contribution to the blogosphere. To kick things off, I'm going to count to 50 on topics that it seems sensible for me to write about. Hopefully future me will run somewhere with some of these leads, c.f. item 48.

  1. Authorship trades on theory papers: what does "equal contribution" means in situations with quantifiable power imbalances? Is there a better way?
  2. Just pay people: how to allocate small amounts of money to projects that might do some good.
  3. Kitchen table poly: efficient tools for creating networks of trust.
  4. Psychonautics: why are there so many people who have tried LSD or MDMA but not bupropion or lithium? Investigating the borderland between "recreational" and "psychiatric" drug use.
  5. Objects I know and love: of the many items I purchased in 2020, which ones do I still use and how hard shall I shill for them?
  6. Video games I know and love: of the many thousands of hours I've spent on video games, which of those hours were good investments in terms of... memories formed? skills acquired? narratives learned?
  7. Book review of "The panic of 1907," from which I now believe that something like ten percent of orthodox economic theory and policy come from studying a single six-month period of US history.
  8. Book review of "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, and Strategies" by Nick Bostrom.  A true masterwork of rigorous philosophy, which should be read with the same sort of care as Kardar's book on statistical mechanics book or Atiyah and MacDonald's book on commutative algebra.
  9. Book review of "Thinking, fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman. This changed my relationship to my own cognitive algorithms and changed my perspective on "efficient markets."
  10. Book review of "Starting strength" by Mark Rippetoe. This textbook uses a real understanding of classical mechanics and human physiology to teach you how to move yourself and objects — in my social circles, a highly undervalued skill.
  11. Book review of "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang, a short story arguing that statics may be even more important than dynamics, and which significantly increased my own appreciation for deceased humans.
  12. Book review of "Conscious Loving" by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, which has helped me take an outside view interpersonal relationships.
  13. Book review of "Behave" by Robert Sapolsky, which has an amazing blend of "memorable anecdotes about human behavior" and "precise discussions about the mechanics of hormones and neurotransmitters."
  14. Taking notes in social situations: an intentional approach to friendship.
  15. Lessons from the sidewalk: things I've learned by being alone in public and looking approachable.
  16. Nightclubs and bars: how to get mistaken for a drug dealer, how to have a good time with nonverbal communication, and how to end up at a quiet house party in a foreign country.
  17. Para-academia: contributing to basic science without the boring bits.
  18. Mathematics research as a rationality training program.
  19. Quantitative finance as a rationality training program.
  20. Bipolar disorder: getting diagnosed without breaking everything.
  21. If your head hurts, move your legs: interaction terms between cardiovascular health and intellectual work.
  22. Applying to grad school: how to get respectable profs to fight over you with a 3.3 GPA and 0 papers.
  23. Owning your personal finances: One Weird Trick to buying stability without overcoming laziness and anxiety.
  24. My time as co-captain of a high school football team.
  25. Pair programming: not just for software engineers!
  26. The Lean theorem prover: learn mathematics by having a maximally pedantic undergrad ask you every question and remember every answer you give it.
  27. Organizing a group house in 10 days or less.
  28. Interviewing: what I think I can test for in a 15 minute phone conversation, and what it would look like if I was wrong.
  29. Interviews: how do Rob Wiblin, Tyler Cowen, and Julia Galef extract so much good content from their guests?
  30. Episode reviews of the "80000 hours" podcast: Julia Galef, Danny Hernandez, Alex Gordon-Brown, Greg Lewis.
  31. Episode reviews of the "Rationally Speaking" podcast: Matt Yglesias, Sabine Hossenfelder.
  32. Episode reviews of the "Conversations with Tyler" podcast: Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Annie Duke, Esther Duflo, Masha Gessen.
  33. Podcast reviews: for me, some podcasts are more about a relationship with the authors than about specific pieces of content. "Hannahlyze This", "Cortex", "Anthropocene Reviewed".
  34. 3d printed buildings: how much does it cost to erect a campus somewhere in the US suitable for 500 people to do theoretical and computational research and teaching/learning?
  35. QEDUSD: my longshot project to use computer theorem provers to add fine-grained financial incentives to mathematics research.
  36. A Costco diet: what am I eating and how much does it cost?
  37. Recipe: pressure-cooked risotto. veg oil, aromatics, stock powder, short grain rice, water, veggies, lid, cheese (or coconut oil + nutritional yeast), in that order.
  38. Recipe: my first conference paper. medical leave, fluoxetine, desk, couch, whiteboard, beanbag, and long walking commute.
  39. Caltech math club: the surprisingly difficult task of convincing aspiring mathematicians to narrate some math to their friends at a chalkboard.
  40. Caltech Harvey Mudd Math Competition: faded memories of a logistical nightmare.
  41. Caltech Board of Control: my time as the secretary of the body that protects Caltech's take-home open-book exam.
  42. Leanprover zulipchat: the most productive place I've ever hung out on the internet.
  43. Reviewing mental health professionals: I've worked with 3 therapists and 2 psychiatrists, getting massive amounts of value out of each of them. Did I just get lucky or did I also do something right?
  44. Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth: I spend a lot more time talking to literal monks than most of my friends — am I accessing deep wisdom or getting pulled into a deep end of woo?
  45. Reviewing dating apps: 7 first dates in as many years, overall a massively positive trade.
  46. Dysfunction in US legislative bodies: Can I imagine effecting meaningful change as an elected official in a US legislative body? How hard is it to get elected?
  47. Strategies for mental health and social cohesion in 2020. Among people I know, which things worked and which didn't?
  48. Precommitment: the power of teamwork between your past and future selves.
  49. Is "brain drain" real? My personal transition from academia to finance.
  50. Radical transparency: why my income level is available on my website, and what other things I think I should get around to sharing.
  51. Bridging the gap between empirical and logical uncertainty: theory and practice.