8 posts tagged

daily log

Daily log: September 1, 2019

Spent pretty much the whole day integrating various things from the past, following Peterson’s “if you remember something that happened more than 18 months ago and it still feels bad, you haven’t done a good job thinking about what happened and you’d better do it now”.

The basic structure for relationship-style things is:

  • What did you do wrong?
  • Why didn’t the other person defend adequately?
  • What did the other person do wrong?
  • Why didn’t you defend adequately?

I won’t give examples because they are not particularly useful without context, plus I don’t want to post my own examples here anyway. And that’s all for now because I have to sleep. See you!

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Daily log: August 31, 2019


Spent a while brainstorming things that are Out to Get Me:

They seek resources at your expense. Fees are hidden. Extra options are foisted upon you. Things are made intentionally worse, forcing you to pay to make it less worse. Least bad deals require careful search. Experiences are not as advertised. What you want is buried underneath stuff you don’t want. Everything is data to sell you something, rather than an opportunity to help you.

[...] When you listen to a political speech, you feel it. Dealing with your wireless or cable company, you feel it. At the car dealership, you feel it. When you deal with that one would-be friend, you feel it. Thinking back on that one ex, you feel it. It’s a trap.

As a side effect of the exercise I’ve realized that “thinking outside the box” and “being too lazy to figure out what exactly the author had in mind and going with the interpretation you like” are pretty similar from the outside. Not the point, though.

What is out to get me?

  1. Refactoring? Writing good documentation? Contributing to open-source?
  2. Hacker News, Reddit, Twitter. Rewatching Charlie Brooker clips over and over. Haskell-related chats.
  3. Listening to music and trying to find more good music.
  4. Projects like Codesearch that are nifty and nothing beyond that. Same for smaller libs like microlens – the time spent on them is absolutely not worth the result.
  5. Guitar. Learning recognizable parts of popular songs, but never something whole, and never something that would keep the listener curious from the first note to the last.
  6. Living with people: going to places together, watching TV shows together, etc.

All of that is “out to get me” in a pretty loose sense – takes potentially unbounded time, and only brings back proportional value (but not exponential).

Further reflection produced several random revelations (as well as an excuse for alliteration). First of all, the best way to avoid refactoring code is, obviously, not writing any code. Goal for the next half a year: identified. Next, I should give up on guitar until I find a guitar tutor. Finally, living with people seems very useful if I can run ideas by them, not very useful otherwise. Goal for the previous N years: de-identified.


Reviewed a Guide PR I was postponing for two days. The interesting part is that this PR replaced carefully constructed Postgres schemas with dumb “let’s just store everything as JSON” storage (with my blessing).

My reasoning was basically that storing nested documents in a relational database is tricky, plus it creates extra invariants that the database can not verify anyway. But my slightly deeper reasoning was “if I hate an idea, there’s probably something to it”. I will keep you updated.


Speaking of “if I hate an idea, there’s probably something to it”, I now have How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and Atlas Shrugged in my reading pipeline.

The former is just conservative-ish enough to maybe be worthwhile. The second one is more interesting – it touches the dreaded “liberalism/individualism” square of the Tilted Political Compass, and by “touches” I mean “throws a 60-page monolog at you”. That’s a kinda long monolog. Monolong. Wish me luck.

I have three hypotheses: a) individualism is stupid, b) individualism somehow secretly leads to Faster Progress in Society even when it tells you that you should care about yourself and not about the society, and c) I don’t know what individualism is and I should just read the book. My bets are on (b), although (c) is a strong contender.


Finally, bought the Procreate drawing app for my sister and she has already spent three hours drawing. Worth it. Also, all other apps I’ve seen seem to be crappy, so – double worth it.

€11 feels expensive for an app because [stupid biases of some kind], so I justified it by resolving to earn the same amount by working a bit more. Admittedly, this particular case wasn’t well thought out because it clashed with “don’t work on a weekend”.

(The weekend won.)

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Daily log: August 30, 2019

Sending status updates about projects is apparently very useful – a) people are less worried, b) extra interactions = extra opportunities. The primary reason I usually don’t give status updates is that I also believe that c) every interaction is a chance for someone to remember that I exist and it would result in something bad (getting fired, getting shouted at, I don’t know). This doesn’t seem to hold in practice, though – but if so, why would I ever believe it? And the answer is: because if I actually do get shouted at, it would be Impossible To Fix Ever, so being afraid of getting shouted at is much more worthwhile than hoping for something good to happen. Which is stupid, because mostly everything is actually fixable.

Broke up with a friend because I couldn’t talk to them without getting annoyed and it wasn’t fair for either of us. I don’t know why I get annoyed at some things and not others, and I have given up trying to figure why.

Got slightly drunk, ostensibly in an attempt to do whatever things I was reluctant to do earlier this week, but in reality just because I wanted to. This doesn’t take away from the fact that I did do things I was reluctant to do, and it was useful and probably worth getting drunk. Not sure what is the lesson here.

Tried very good crêpes: ДЭПО #2. I don’t know why I’m even telling you this.

Reading pipeline (likely predicts what I will be thinking about in the next couple of weeks)

Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons

So consider next time you randomly pick a novel, to avoid the one with the author photo representing a pensive man with an ascot standing behind wall-to-wall bookshelves. Or the well-spoken person who gives what is known as a TED talk.

What can be phrased and expressed in a clear narrative that convinces suckers will be a sucker trap. [...] Likewise, there prevails the illusion that businesses work by business plans and science by funding. This is strictly not true: a business plan is a useful narrative for those who want to convince a sucker.

The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial

As a result, as another buddy Rob Salkowitz put it in our Facebook discussion, premium mediocrity is creating an aura of exclusivity without actually excluding anyone. [...] Premium mediocrity is a pattern of consumption that publicly signals upward mobile aspirations, with consciously insincere pretensions to refined taste, while navigating the realities of inexorable downward mobility with sincere anxiety. There are more important things to think about than actually learning to appreciate wine and cheese, such as making rent. But at least pretending to appreciate wine and cheese is necessary to not fall through the cracks in the API.

Daniel Kahneman on Cutting Through the Noise

I was working with an insurance company, and we did a very standard experiment. They constructed cases, very routine, standard cases. [...] You have 50 people reading a case and putting a dollar value on it.

Suppose you take two people at random, two underwriters at random. You average the premium they set, you take the difference between them, and you divide the difference by the average. By what percentage do people differ? Well, would you expect people to differ? And there is a common answer that you find, when I just talk to people and ask them, or the executives had the same answer. It’s somewhere around 10 percent.

Now, what we found was 50 percent, 5–0, which, by the way, means that those underwriters were absolutely wasting their time, in the sense of assessing risk.

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Daily log: August 29, 2019

Worked in a coffee shop again. Learned – from a random magazine lying around – that the specialty coffee industry is surprisingly self-aware (or startlingly not?):

Are We in a Bubble?


Meanwhile, there seems to be a “third wave playbook” that has been passed around to any entrepreneur with a few extra hundred grand and a sweet location. Certain places, once the source of unique coffee experiences (Melbourne, London, Dublin, LA, Chicago – just to name a few), are super saturated with coffee companies. Everyone is talking about their coffees’ provenance. Everyone has an $18k espresso machine. Everyone can do latte art. Everyone has a passionate mission, a direct relationship with the grower, and a commitment to deliver the highest quality.


What would a coffee bubble look like? A coffee bubble might mean that consumer prices are impossibly high, and the bubble will burst when consumers wake up and start refusing to pay US$4.50 for their flat whites. [...]

Decided not to work after 8 PM. This won’t last for long but I claim that it will have a (useful) long-term effect anyway. Might expand later.

Shifted towards “I should look closely at what Alexander Granin does and learn things from him”. Some things he thinks/does are [controversial]. I am aware of that and will take the matter with utmost seriousness. (I will probably not.)

Successfully restrained from arguing too much about Peterson. Protip: prefixing anything with “successfully” makes it look more like an achievement!

Speaking of Peterson, a fun question: can I convey whatever Kegan/Chapman/Peterson are talking about without spending so many words and exhausting the reader/viewer’s budget for “incomprehensible ramblings”? Less fun but probably more important question: will that be useful? Good and Real attempts to do exactly that with questions like “Does free will exist?”, but it didn’t really work for me, and more wordy things like the Sequences fared better.

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Daily log: August 28, 2019

Alright, it’s 3 AM already so I’ll keep it short.

Worked in a cafe, thanks to “Every productivity thought I’ve ever had” et al:

[...] even if you can work at home, you probably shouldn’t. I personally try leave home as early as possible, go to the university, and return home as late as possible.

It works, and I always knew it worked, but when I moved back to my hometown I pretty much stopped leaving the house. “Why didn’t I think about it before?” is a very important question here, but I don’t know the answer yet.

Started a blog post about application of Kegan to [redacted], life, the universe, and everything, but it’s all in my head and I have to talk it through and then expand it. I would have also said that I should spend a couple of years figuring out if it’s even right, but nowadays I know that anything with “should spend a couple of years” in the middle is wrong. Looks like you, my gentle readers, will have to endure the unrightness I will unleash upon you.

Monadfix is doing well. It dawned on me for the first time today that “hey, actually, thanks to me payments in India will be slightly more reliable” – all my life before that I felt kinda disconnected from projects I was working on.

Sold cryptocurrencies I don’t like. Bye, Ripple and NEO and Zen. Hello, Ethereum and Ethereum and Ethereum. Overall my plan to become a multimillionaire by being more patient than other people isn’t doing so well. It’s probably a metaphor for something. (Not really, it’s quite transparent.)

Wrote an almost exhaustive list of places I’ve been to and have an opinion about. It’s in Russian so it’s not in English. On the other hand, if it was in English it would not be in Russian, so that’s fair I think.

This is all for now. Bye!

 No comments   2019   daily log

Daily log: August 27, 2019

So here hath been dawning
Another blue day:
Think, wilt thou let it
Slip useless away?

Well, maybe I wilt, maybe I wiltn’t, let’s see.

This day has mostly been spent on maintenance, plus [redacted], which coincidentally was the most useful thing I did today.

Ran, despite thinking “ehh I’m too lazy”. Apparently I’m not that bad at creating habits, I just think I am. From now on I shall think I’m excellent at creating habits. Growth mindset!

Well, growth mindset actually probably doesn’t exist, but that’s exactly what I would say if I didn’t believe in growth mindset. [checks email] Oh, I got invited to join the Tautology Club. Nifty.

Did more timers. That’s probably because I’m excellent at creating habits, and not because timers are fun. (It’s because timers are fun.)

Read about royal prerogative in the UK. Monarchy in the UK is said to follow the principle “the monarch is allowed to do anything as long as they will never actually exercise this power”, which is funny and so you might’ve heard it before, but the interesting part – “so what will happen if the unstoppable force does hit an immovable object after all?” – is usually omitted. No wonder, because it turns out to be pretty boring: a) the monarch can’t do that much and b) if they do, a court will say “no”, or the thing will be undone, or somebody will sue the government and win, or nobody will care.


In 1990, when a law liberalising Belgium’s abortion laws was approved by parliament, King Baudouin refused to give his royal assent, only the second time in Belgium’s history the monarch elected to do so. Instead, he requested that the cabinet declare him unable to reign for a day, which it did, thereby assuming the king’s constitutional powers. All members of the government then signed the bill, passing it into law. The government declared that Baudouin was capable of reigning again the next day.

Finished another Peterson’s lecture, will maybe write about it later. They are getting more and more boring, probably because I’ve internalized the interesting parts already.

Made rice. Ate rice. Feels like I’m playing ABACABA, but with food. (The rules are simple: whoever spells out the longest prefix of ABACABA... wins. In my case, I can go for a while with {everything I was eating before} + rice, but eventually I’ll have to find something else to add to the mix.)

 No comments   2019   daily log

Daily log: August 26, 2019

Followed back everyone who followed me on Keybase and everyone in the “suggested” list, plus some more random people. Wrote everyone. Got a few responses back! None of those have led anywhere, though.

Out of people I wrote to, some will try to get something out of me eventually. Which is great, because that’s how you get mutually beneficial transactions. Even better if they want to recommend me to someone else, as illustrated by a random quote from [wherever]:

[...] I realized the person I was speaking with could benefit from a contact of mine who could help the brand reach its target audience.

It was mutually beneficial, but when I expressed interest in connecting them, his reaction was, “What’s in it for you? Are you a consultant? What fees are you making from this?”

My answer was simple: It was valuable for me to have a strong relationship with both sides of the introduction, and connecting the two was the best way to do that.

Translation: “I wanted to get status by recommending you to that other person I know”. Please do.

Okay, enough of this. Next: onboarded our new hire Marko Dimjašević. He is way more careful and disciplined than I currently am, which is a) completely appropriate given that he’s a software verification and formal methods expert and I’m kinda not, and b) it’s also great for Monadfix and me personally because now I have to not look bad. It’s like wearing an invisible tie.

Watched another Peterson talk, see Jordan Peterson: Who Dares Say He Believes in God? for the details. Overall I can really recommend watching things for the sole purpose of generating prompts to think about. It’s, like, several stars out of five.

Abandoned the habit of not eating after 7pm because I was struggling with cheese-related theodicy: “if God exists and is good, why am I not allowed to eat a bit of cheese with my evening tea?”. Henceforth I shall be allowed to eat whenever – but if I’m hungry, it has to be a proper meal. And if I can’t make a proper meal out of eight curd snacks, well, tough luck. Also, cookies are still verboten because I’m trying to figure out whether all food stereotypes (tasty things are bad for you basically) are secretly true.

Hummus → spaghetti → glass noodles → vegetables → hummus was getting tiresome, so I bought some rice. Really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, I don’t know what I’m going to do if that turns out to be still not varied enough. Just kidding, I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to suffer.

Finally, got inspired by the following highly inspirational quote and told somebody that they did something cool. Non-sarcastically even!

“Rationalists obviously don’t *actually* take ideas seriously. Like, take the Gratitude Journal. This is the one peer-reviewed intervention that *actually increases your subjective well being*, and costs barely anything. And no one I know has even seriously tried it. Do literally *none* of these people care about their own happiness?”

“Huh. Do *you* keep a gratitude journal?”

“Lol. No, obviously.”

— Some Guy at the Effective Altruism Summit of 2012

 No comments   2019   daily log

Daily log: August 25, 2019

Finished another Peterson’s lecture (see Jordan Peterson, Personality #6: Jean Piaget & Constructivism). Nothing new, but the value of those lectures lies largely in providing a set of prompts to think about, plus occasionally mentioning interesting things to research later (like Jungian “Shadow”). This one didn’t disappoint.

Did seven Yoda timers. You can spy on my progress at artyomkazak/yoda on Beeminder. The idea is that if I will do 7–10 of those every day, I will eventually build a habit of setting a timer for any non-trivial action (solving a task, googling something, unloading the dishwasher, thinking through a problem). All of those become easier with a timer, and thinking in particular improves qualitatively – I can’t generate almost any thoughts without a timer, for some reason.

Read through Alexey Guzey’s Every productivity thought I’ve ever had, as concisely as possible. I like how he says right from the start “Every productivity system stops working eventually and there’s nothing you can do about it” – that’s something everybody kinda knows but I’ve never seen it spelled explicitly. That post specifically wasn’t particularly useful, but the author is LW-aligned and has written several pretty dense posts that I haven’t had the time to read carefully yet, but should – e. g. How to make friends over the internet. Looks like a cool person overall.

Figured out how to turn off the sound for mobile notifications while still leaving call ringtones on. The magic trick is the “None” setting for notification sounds (Android, MIUI). I expected there to be a more obvious “mute/unmute” setting somewhere, but no. Now I will maybe stop missing literally all phone calls.

Spent whole two hours writing an email and not getting distracted. It remains to be seen whether not getting distracted is as useful as it seems it could be. I will keep you updated.

 No comments   2019   daily log