Friday, June 27, 2008

Little Moe inside my Head, Sphere of Direct Influence

I was thinking about:
I will work towards _short term victory condition_ with Grace and Intention, both in Action and Thought, with Gratitude for my circumstance and the Positive Expectation that this will take me towards my long term goals and highest aspirations.
Has it, in fact, been a big bucket of awesome? Well, not quite. Then I was thinking about:
Viktor Frankl's distinction between Liberty and Freedom. Liberty is a description of the external environment, Freedom is a description of the ability to choose how to respond, instead of simply reacting.
Where it hasn't been a big bucket of awesome, I really felt the lack of Liberty, and, so, needed to strive for Freedom. Why am I now tying it all together with:
The "Extension Spring" connections between the Sphere of Direct Influence, the Sphere of Responsibility, and the Sphere of Concern.
Why? Well, because of challenges. I am feeling my depression strongly the last few days. I know that depression is a "heavy" word, and I know to break down the depression I feel into the exact components, because there are specific techniques for countering each component. I am feeling:
  • Fatigue, resting in a napping pose is so delicious, as a way to make it all go away
  • Irritation coming easily and creating pain
  • confusion from overwhelm
  • loss of hope from overwhelm
  • strong, steady stream of impulses to manage mood
  • strong, steady stream of impulses to distract self with time wasters
OK, I have some challenges here. So it all goes back to the Spheres of Direct Influence, Responsibility, and Concern. I will put the whole of the solution inside my sphere of responsibility, and use that to grow the size of my sphere of direct influence. It really does feel like a little Moe inside my head, who has a limited sphere of direct influence, against the issues listed above.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Said Goodbye, Goodluck to Sumiracle

Off Sumiracle goes to Germany then Scotland then England, he promised to post his public Google Calendar with dates of performances. We talked about a lot of stuff. Wanted to blog the best stuff before I lose it. "With Grace" - Short term intention anchored to food or drink:
  • Before eating or drinking (or smoking, in Sumiracle's case), use the opportunity to anchor, to contemplate short term goals, form pure intention, have the intention to the goal, not the method, and strive to do it "with grace".
  • I think I will go so far as to press palms together, head down, in prayerful state.
Creating, Trying, Testing, Choosing Rituals
  • Religion has ritual. If you don't prescribe to a religious affiliation, you can make your own rituals.
  • Again, this is about intention, and anchoring the physical self to higher goals, spirituality, gratitude, positive expectation.
Scientifically studying my "Falling in the river" I have the definite frustrating feeling of "falling in the river".
  • I see a short term goal ahead of me, I see the path to it, the path runs by a river.
  • I am walking along the path...
  • the next time I am in full possession of consciousness and awareness, I feel "I fell into the river, and tumbled and washed far downstream", away from my goal.
I feel that I fell back into managing my mood, placating myself with distractions, yielded to mere base coping. Now I am further from my goal, and I am demoralized.
  • "Falling into the river" was due to a lapse of concentration.
  • "Falling into the river" was the result of yielding to old harmful impulses.
Sumiracle suggested viewing the whole situation as "magic" and scientifically probing the "magical" aspects of it.
  • "I suddenly lose concentration" -> "Why and How did you lose concentration?" "What circumstances make it more or less likely to lose concentration?"
  • "I drift downstream" -> "How far downstream?" "How fast?"
  • "Demoralize" -> "How great the demoralization?" "Quantify it."
  • "The river is close to the path" -> "How close?" "How far?" "Is there another path?"
  • and so on...
I can clearly picture this scene of Path, and River, and Challenge, and Loss. So, this scene has "magical" aspects, the power of me is quite "magical". OK, probe. Study this "magic" with cold precision. And in this way, cause it to vanish into predictability, or at least minimize its power. Meditation, for short time, to bring specific emotion into reality Sumiracle said he had success with brief mediation, 5 minutes or so, to recall a specific emotion. He began with happiness. He experimented with the idea that he could, through force of will and intention, recalled a time of happiness, and guarantee that for 5 minutes every week, he could feel the emotion of happiness. He also tried anger. He got a grip of the tail of anger, based on his ability to call it into existence by meditation and recalling a time of anger. I believe that covers it. I can sleep now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Plomin et al's Heritable IQ Study

From Bryan Caplan EconLog "How Family Environment Works"
If the only result from this study had been the "IQ is heritable," it would have been just another study. But its special methodology - studying adoptee's development from birth to adulthood - confirmed a shocking finding: As children grow up, the heritability of IQ rises, and the influence of family environment on IQ literally vanishes. ... ... We naturally think about the effects of family as cumulative: The longer you're in a family, the deeper the impression. At least for IQ, though, this "natural" thought turns out to be wrong. Family affects the very young, then fades out.
Commenter "eric":
That study was featured prominently in Judith Rich Harris's book, the Nurture Assumption.
Commenter "Tim Lundeen":

Re: Why does the coefficient rise with age for the control group?

Because the controls are more similar genetically to their parents than the adoptees, and there is a genetic component to IQ. Cognitive ability develops in fits and starts (just as physical ability does); a child may be ahead or behind of the curve at younger ages, so has lower correlation at younger ages.

I am trying to make sense of heritable IQ. How do we model this?

Is heritable IQ best modeled as a:

  • _necessary_ to act at a certain level of effectiveness
  • a _multiplier_ that increases or decreases effectiveness
  • a factor that is best teased out by a _feed-back loop_, where successes are built upon towards larger successes, ad infinitum, and failures lead to larger failures, ad infinitum, based on higher or lower heritable IQ
  • is it even clear that heritable IQ is _sufficient_ for a certain level of effectiveness?

What model can explain some of the confounding problems of IQ, like that IQ scores have risen from generation to generation?

Commenter "Chuck":

It would be intersting to know if, as IQ migrates to a heriditary value from the family value, is it predominantly increasing or decreasing.

To put it another way, does the family environment cause IQ to predominanty deviate lower or higher than the nominal hereditary value.

I would guess that family environment has a bias to suppress hereditary IQ. My hypothesis is that stress interferes with learning, and that most parents are 'mean' authoritarians. (As a point of distinguishment*, there is a differece between authoritarian and disciplinarian.)

So, the idea is that in the authoritarian home, our IQ is suppressed until we finally leave it, at which time it rises to it's inherited normal value.

I would be surprised to find that it was elevated in childhood and then dropped.

* I'm not positive I invented that word, the preznit might have beat me to it.

Karl Smith via commenter "TGGP":

...I am sticking a flag in the sand and declaring my hypothesis that the genetic component of intelligence is preference. That is, smart people are people who like intellectually stimulating experiences. My guess is that they are more sensitive to the pleasure chemical released when successfully solving a hard problem. Thus they solve more hard problems. ... For those who have trouble seeing how this might work consider this: Obesity has a strong genetic component. Obesity like IQ has been rising over time. However, does anyone believe that obesity is not completely determined by your food consumption and exercise patterns? Genes can modify that function, in particular they can modify your equilibrium levels of food consumption but they cannot act outside of the environmental regime.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

tolerance of catastrophic failure, when groups of people work on complex problems

Comment on Arnold Kling's blog Econlog: "My Ideas on Health Care Delivery"

> The autonomous, self-directed doctors produced by our medical schools are not suited to treating complex patients. Instead, what we need are team players, implementing consistent corporate policies.

This is a _hard_ problem. I am management for a engineering design and manufacturing company. Even with the authority to fire for insubordination, people enjoy being "autonomous, self-directed", and do so against rational self-interest.

Complexity, handled by groups of people, is regularly punctuated with catastrophic failure. Catastrophic failure is only avoided by systematically eliminating _EVERY_ excuse for _ANY_ failure (to the extent you can). This kind of discipline is in very short supply, because it is not usually rewarded in human society.

Human being are _very_ tolerant of catastrophic failure, when it happens to others. And it usually happens to others, and, so, they are usually _very_ tolerant.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Heckman on Inequality

via Arnold Kling "econlog" - _Heckman on Inequality_
Schools, Skills, and Synapses - James J. Heckman - May 2008
"...interventions early in the life cycle of disadvantaged children have much higher economic returns than later interventions such as reduced pupil-teacher ratios, public job training, convict rehabilitation programs, adult literacy programs, tuition subsidies or expenditure on police."
Kling interpreting Heckman:
"An important inference to draw from the paper is that trying to reduce economic inequality by, say, subsidizing more young people to go to college, is likely to be very ineffective. Even interventions at the primary school level are mostly too late." "One of Heckman's themes is that while IQ is difficult to change with intervention, it is possible to affect what he calls socio-emotional skills, and those in turn will affect performance on test scores and overall achievement."
"Programs that target the early years seem to have the greatest promise... Programs with home visits affect the lives of the parents and create a permanent change in the home environment that supports the child after center-based interventions end. Programs that build character and motivation that do not focus exclusively on cognition appear to be the most effective."
Kling discussing Heckman:
"In the conclusion to his paper, Heckman stresses making sure that these early interventions "respect the sanctity of early family life and...cultural diversity." It is not clear that the basis for this concern is practical, or whether it is because Heckman is experiencing queasiness over promoting state intervention into family life. I can appreciate a libertarian concern with having the state take a large role in child-rearing. I am less persuaded if the concern is one of political correctness, where you want the state to intervene but then fret about the self-esteem of the families or groups where the intervention is undertaken."
My aside: Kling has a readership obsessed with _The Bell Curve_. _The Bell Curve_ is a dead end, if you are interested in the genetic component of life success.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Compensation, Management, Motivation (Again)

You are Paid, Managed, Motivated by:
  • Results
  • Future Results
Obviously, nobody has a perfect handle on future results. Mistakes will be made. The principal is:
  • Salary
  • Other forms of compensation and motivation - all you have is Trust and Commitment - the watchwords are "Avoid Violating Trust and Commitment" - so under-promise and over-deliver.
If you risk losing people because you under-promise, then raise the salary, or raise the committed monies to make sure the commitment is delivered. Because if you have a Violation of Trust and Commitment, then you wipe away all the good will built up before, and you will have to deliver double in the future to get half of the good will. People are very slow to forget a Violation of Trust and Commitment. OK, lets go over this list again - these are the components of Compensation, Management, and Motivation:
  1. Results - Historical evidence of meeting objectives: like bookings of a salesman
  2. Data on activities that have a "causal" relationship to the desired objectives: like number of meetings and follow-up activities with decision makers
  3. Data on activities that have a presumed, perhaps tenuous causal relationship to the desired objectives: like hours spent researching a possible new product offering. There is a significant chance of complete failure with a new product offering - that is why the causal relationship to the desired objectives is tenuous.
  4. "Positive" human factors: I sometimes eat at a cafeteria salad restaurant. The cafeteria trays are handed out by a handicapped man. Part of his salary is due to the restaurant living its stated values. (But it isn't all "altruism", he brings value, he is the voice of the restaurant's handicapped patrons). Note - What isn't a "positive" human factor - keeping someone in a job because you feel sorry for them is not a "positive" human factor - it has everything to do with a manager who finds it easy to be generous with other peoples' money, who cannot deal with the anxiety of terminating someone for cause, and who would not hesitate to terminate that person during an economic downturn, which is the exact time they would find it hardest to find a new job.
  5. "Negative" human factors: the percentage of salary that is based on kissing up, is another example.
  6. Market Forces: if the work is directly or closely aligned with pricing in an economic market, a component of compensation/management should be based on the market price: like a "free-agent" in baseball, or upper management in a publicly traded company, some component of compensation/management has to be based on the market price
  7. Relevant Sub-Categories of Market: "inter-market based compensation" - If the whole market sub-category goes down, but inside that sub-category, market share and profitability goes up, the compensation should reflect that. You will be in a good position when the sub-category reverses the downward turn, compensation, today, should reflect that, or you risk losing good people.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pownce is still still down

OK, time for bed also, thinking about overwhelm, I problem I have what if you imagine winning the lottery, and a team of personal assistants helicopter in, as well pick a time in the future, where you minimize the things you need to do to a single post-it note, without the need for a second not too close in the future, or the post-it note will be blank not too far out in the future, or it all will not fit on a post-it note basically, pick your unit of zero overwhelm (comfort zone) and imagine a perfect solution helicoptering in, so you don't have anything besides the unit of zero overwhelm begin the "Getting Things Done" exercise, but put everything else in a much lower category

Pownce is still down

Today was rough, domain controller bit the dust it really only took down DHCP, no biggie, somewhere along the way it looks like we had a redundant DNS i have half a mind not to use the Microsoft DHCP, it is stupid but maybe don't really have a choice

Pownce is down

So I type here! Was reminding myself, that things I learn, I am just not ready to apply it all right away. I am coming back to "Getting Things Done" David Allen talks about "Mind like Water": water reacts perfectly in proportion to the stimulus, no over-reaction, no under-reaction.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Basic Limited Resources of Humans

  • short term health
  • long term health
  • memory (short term, long term, random access (readily accessible), serial access (accessible in proper / specific context)
  • emotion
  • ability to give love
  • ability to withstand stress
  • ability to withstand uncertainty/confusion
  • ability to withstand complexity
  • capacity for linear / rational thought
  • capacity for contemplate large amounts of data
  • time
  • attention
  • focus
  • energy
  • self-control
  • ability to ignore impulses
  • action - physical
  • action - mental
  • ability to withstand ethical violations
  • ability to withstand violations of personal value
  • ability to withstand violations of fundamental understanding
  • ability to withstand loss
  • ability to withstand violations of hope

More on Free Will

Also, actions should be statistically unlikely (based on typical behaviors of humans in general, or the socio-economic group belonged to, or historical -- typical behaviors of person before made change in prescriptive personal morality code) if not somehow statistically unlikely, not free will I think I am filling in the cracks, have it pretty much there, put down

Against Disclaimers - Robin Hanson

Against Disclaimers - Robin Hanson

Hand axes from the Acheulian periodImage via Wikipedia

Blog posts are short and have a broad audience. One of the worst things about writing them is having to make disclaimers. Not just legal disclaimers mind you – those are only the tip of an iceberg. Writing is hard in part because words have many associations that vary among readers. Even when we use carefully choose our words to signal certain associations, we know some readers will instead hear other associations. So in addition to saying what we do mean, we sometimes have to say explicitly what we do not mean.
True, but these pleadings usually come from people who habitually engage in the Art of Controversy. People who are really working to communicate usually don't mind adding qualifiers on request. I will put it more strongly: adding qualifiers or providing qualifiers on request is loathed by people who are just interested in swirling up controversy. It is a shame that everyone is penalized into adding unnecessary qualifiers, but, until "mind-meld" technology is perfected, it is part of the effective use of human languages.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More notes on Free Will

Free Will and Consciousness -- emergent properties. Yeah, best understood as emergent properties. But, yeah, doesn't help that people regularly mistake for Free Will things that are strictly and demonstratively deterministic on outer causes. Just admit this from the start, say what we are most interested in is studying Free Will as an emergent property, and define it as the mixture of (A) capriciousness and (B) obedience to the consequences of internal moral state. (Definition of "moral state" -- ask them some questions about optimal prescriptive ethics, ask them about the implied actions based on those prescriptive ethics. Just ask them -- and record the answers. Get them to talk about optimal prescriptive ethics and the implied actions. Nobody is philosophic enough to lie to deceive here -- the tremendous urge to avoid cognitive dissonance prevents answering completely falsely.) Last note: consider the hierarchy of desires, goals, wants, needs (with automatically satisfied impulses on the bottom of the hierarchy). Free Will presupposes this hierarchy. Yeah, just figure out the least amount of free will I need for my arguments, knowing I can easily demonstrate the immense difficulty of proving away that small amount of free will.

Notes on Free Will, Rescued from Pownce

What about Free Will? (I have to work in what is meant by "Choose". But, basically, a pragmatic take on Free Will -- people who act as if they have and believe in Free Will are measurably more Effective than those who act as if they lack or otherwise disbelieve in Free Will.) ((Hmm, yes, the people who most stridently deny Free Will are pretty sorry creatures.)) Is that it? Do I tie the definition of Effective with Free Will (by definition, you are Effective if you (A) Believe and Act as if you have Free Will, and (B)...) Yeah, it isn't encouraging that the people who demonstrate the most energy spent to deny free will are some sad and sorry creatures. Also, those that deny free will only consider very short time frames in their arguments. I have held discussions in my head, over decades. Even the most fleeting sparks of free will would have had the ability to influence dozens or hundreds of times, in that span. Choice, Volition, Desire -- mixed together -- over a long span (at least a thousand eye-blinks) -- can create a mixture of uncertainty & certainty, morality & immorality, fickleness & steadfastness -- that is indistinguishable from free will. If the argument against free will is so strong, why do the people use all the tools of the art of controversy, and consider the trivial and the fleeting, instead of the significant over long periods of time. It is like arguing that there exists no large pile of leaves -- because one leaf is not a large pile, two leaves are not a large pile, three leaves are not a large pile... and adding a single leaf to a small pile cannot make it large... QED (Obviously, if the argument is strong, why not directly attack the existence of "the large pile of leaves". If the argument against free will is so strong, why not assert that Melville writing Moby Dick demonstrated nothing you could call volition. Or a human constructing a personally prescriptive ethics over a lifetime demonstrates nothing you could call volition.) Similar people in similar situations (as similar as we can try to make them) exhibit complex behavior over long stretches of time that are a mixture of (A) capriciousness and (B) obedience to the consequences of internal moral state. (Definition of "moral state" -- ask them some questions about optimal prescriptive ethics, ask them about the implied actions based on those prescriptive ethics. Just ask them -- and record the answers.) We call this mixture "Free Will". (Note: this turned out stronger than I expected. Is this my argument for free will? I have an argument, not based on work-a-day pragmatics?) (Back to my original train of thought...) This might be the whole of my argument to not deny free will. My argument for free will, is purely practical. It is demonstratively effective (helpful for a person to achieve goals). (I gotta think this out more, my quick edit turned out stronger than I expected. I wasn't expecting to type out such a good definition of Free Will so quickly.)

Is Day One really about Iteration?

Maybe Day One for everything should be about Iteration. We like Iterative solutions, where this is one cycle of the iteration:
  1. Informed by Goals, Standards, References (regarding External or Internal)
  2. Observe Situation, Environment, Available Resources (External or Internal)
  3. Evaluate
  4. Choose Action
  5. Act
  6. Observe Effectiveness of Action
  7. Invitation to Re-consider Goals, Standards, References
  8. Repeat
Another point: we don't take anything to be so fundamental that we do not regularly schedule re-evaluation, perhaps to replace it. Because we want to avoid treating something deficient as fundamental, particularly when it only becomes deficient as the situation changes. (I have to work in what is meant by "Choose". But, basically, a pragmatic take on Free Will -- people who act as if they have and believe in Free Will are measurably more Effective than those who act as if they lack or otherwise disbelieve in Free Will.) ((Hmm, yes, the people who most stridently deny Free Will are pretty sorry creatures.))

How do Developers Rank Themselves?

Developers can be in it for different things:
  • Providing Human Value through Information Automation
  • Rent-Seeking (think Database Administrators, there are more than their contribution to human value would suggest)
  • Feeling of Importance (think Xah Lee, their development decisions are based on what they can use to stoke their ego)
This is why you have to be a little skeptical of any ranking of fitness of developers. If it is based on rent-seeking or ego, it may be more about destroying human value, not creating it.

Information Automation, Day One

Projects compete for scarce developer hours. A project can have failure modes as a project, or have failure modes specific to attracting sufficient developer hours. (obviously, if a project fails as a project, the developer hours it will be able to attract will go to zero) Also, not all development hours are equal, because not all developers are equal. There are many ranking of fitness of developer that are demonstratively faulty. Be careful. Make sure the ranking of fitness matches concrete results.

What are the paths to be developed?

Management; Business; Personal Effectiveness; Information Automation; Effectiveness Modeling; Teaching Personal Effectiveness OK, got Day Zero, what would be Day One? Business: singular, consistent source of increasing value, at lower total cost; or else, race to the bottom Management: if considering a group of more than one person, either Value the Differences, or Continually Fight the Differences, until 100% of the effort, attention, focus is spent fighting the differences, and nothing of value gets done

Diagram of w:Maslow's hierarchy of needs.Image via Wikipedia

Personal Effectiveness: Everything you do satisfies a need, or desire, or impulse. There is a hierarchy of needs and desires (impulses are on the very bottom) Information Automation: The chair has ??? (many) legs --
  • Throughput
  • Latency
  • Sustain Increasing Bandwidth
  • Integrity and Correctness
  • Respects Rules of Trust Relationships
  • Respects Rules of Security
  • Reliability
  • Availability and Accessibility
  • Scalability (and Distribution of Working Instances)
  • Economic use of Limited Resources
  • Timely Implementation with Available Resources
  • Satisfying Human Value
  • Not Violating Human Sensibilities (including Regulatory requirements)
  • Iterative Development
  • Ability to be Sustained by Attracting enough developer hours
  • Distributed Development
(Why the heck so many? The absence of any one is a failure mode that is almost always fatal, if we consider projects in competition for developer hours.) Kick out one of these legs, the chair falls down. Sorry. Wish it was different, but it is not. (I got to think about this more.) (Oh wait, contemplating projects in competition for developer hours is the real Day One) Effectiveness Modeling: We consider, as a fundamental pair, the distribution and a measure of certainty. In competition, respectful of the Violation Criteria, several sources yield distributions and measures of certainty, as pairs. (LIAR: this is several days packed together, day one is -- We assume the existence of at least one Violation Criteria) Teaching Personal Effectiveness: Possess something that might be mistaken for Success, and document the method by which it was obtained. (Might be mistaken for Success, only from a great distance, and through fog, but somewhat resembles Success, none the less.)
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Day Zero: The Many or the One

The Many or the One? THE MANY! Hedgehog or Fox? A small pack of foxes riding inside of a mechanical hedgehog, that they modify/upgrade/re-build from time to time. Building on this, why do we reject "The One" (The One Big Thing that explains everything... why do we reject it, why do we laugh at people trying to find it?) The Dictionary Paradox:
At some point or the other, nearly every young schoolboy comes to wonder how it is a dictionary is able to define words without falling into circularity.
Imagine a dictionary of 250,00o words. You can easily write the definitions of all 250,000 words, only using a pool of 50,000 words. Some of your definitions will be long and repeat parts of other definitions (you lose some ability to be succinct), but you will not need to sacrifice clarity. Those 50,000 contain some pretty important words. Can you do the same trick with those 50,000 Important words? Can you write definitions of all 50,000 using only 10,000 words? (And thus, write definitions of the original 250,000 with only 10,000 words?) Probably. So now you have 10,000 Very Important words. Are there 2000 Very Very Important words, that you can do the same trick? 200 Very Very Very Important Words? 75 Very Very Very Very Important Words? Can you bring it all the way down to One Word? I guess, but only if you use that word in very peculiar ways. Maybe your definition of AND using only the One Word THE might be: "tHe THE the tHe tHe THEthethe the T-H-e the THE" At this point "THE" (the Ultimate One Word) is a very different thing than "the" (the definite article). You are cheating. We reject this game altogether. We are interested in The Many. (We do value smaller sizes of Many. We put some effort to bringing down in number the fundamental points. Not too much effort -- we do not lose too much sleep if we might have a Point that is expressible in terms of the other Points -- we are pragmatic.)