Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2023-01-20T20:40:46Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com January 20. http://ranprieur.com/#f2bf12a5e90c1de8374ff2973777d63b5553cab3 2023-01-20T20:40:46Z January 20. If you don't normally follow the NFL, this is the best weekend of the year to do so. The Superbowl is hyped and often lame, but in the divisional round of the playoffs, it's not unusual for all four games to be great.

And I've posted my second early 80s playlist on Spotify. Originally my plan was for the first list to be new wave and the second to be rock, but in practice, I have to let go of categories and follow the sound, so now Billy Squier sets up Wall of Voodoo. For the same reason, my 70s list ends in 1981, and this list starts in 1978.

One song is not on Spotify: Suzanne Fellini - Love On The Phone.

Something I noticed, while listening to hair metal, is how much I like Quiet Riot singer Kevin DuBrow. The "growl" of metal singers (I think the technical term is vocal fry) is not that different from vibrato. It's something you can do with your voice, that is required for certain genres, and the mediocre singers just pile it on. But the great singers do it with agility.

By the way, another of my self-improvement projects is learning to sing. I started with the Online Pitch Detector, and it took me a while to get the needle to even stay in one place long enough to be readable. As soon as I could hold an arbitrary frequency for two seconds, I switched to a cool site called Pitchy Ninja. It gives you a series of tones to sing, and grades you A-F on each one. It took me about a hundred tries, over several days, to get a grade other than an F. But now I'm consistently getting non-Fs, and an occasional A on single notes.

Related: At-home musical training improves older adults' short-term memory for faces

January 18. http://ranprieur.com/#c9f706fea80a536f9ffdbb663070cbf92e0861d9 2023-01-18T18:20:52Z January 18. You've probably heard, the 2022 word of the year was gaslighting.

It occurs to me, gaslighting wouldn't work in a culture that doesn't believe in objective truth. The intended victim would be like, cool, I'm splitting off into my own universe. Except that culture wouldn't even have the concept of an out-there physical universe. They would say something like, "Uh-oh, our perspectives are diverging. We need to summon another observer to synchronize with consensus."

Or, if you think the fundamental reality is seeing things differently, it leads to better epistemic discipline, and less freaking out, than if you think there's only one thing to see.

January 17. http://ranprieur.com/#64b4a09c5e2021ee846f6688509b9dce3aa85254 2023-01-17T17:10:57Z January 17. Quick loose end from yesterday, thanks Gryphon. I haven't read this book, so this isn't where I saw it, but Wade Davis wrote this in The Wayfinders:

Even more remarkable is the navigator's ability to pull islands out of the sea. The truly great navigators such as Mau can identify the presence of distant atolls of islands beyond the visible horizon simply by watching the reverberation of waves across the hull of the canoe, knowing full well that every island group in the Pacific has its own refractive pattern that can be read with the same ease with which a forensic scientist would read a fingerprint.

January 16. http://ranprieur.com/#7850b9871489ed1984378ae0b9e1a0164f416259 2023-01-16T16:00:45Z January 16. So I've been emailing with Matt about the human potential. What's normal in one culture might seem impossible in another. For example, there are cultures where everybody has perfect pitch. Also, the canoe people of the south Pacific can look at the waves around their boat and locate an island over the horizon. I'm not sure where I read either of those, but I think the first was Beatrice Bruteau's The Psychic Grid and the second was Tim Ingold's Perception of the Environment.

Posted recently to the subreddit was a blog post about cult leader Gridley Wright, who claimed to have given LSD to indigenous people all over the world, and none of them hallucinated.

One explanation is that his methodology was so sloppy that the results are meaningless. But let's play along, and suppose that a careful study by scrupulous anthropolgists would find the same thing. What would cause that?

Everybody loves value-loaded thinking, so rather than avoid it, let's bring it to the front. Maybe their culture is better than ours, so they live perpetually in a trippy mental state that we can only achieve temporarily through substances.

Or maybe our culture is better than theirs: Through stuff like TV and video games, or even written fiction, our brains are more receptive to seeing what other people are not seeing.

Neither hypothesis fits me. I've taken as much as a tab and a half of LSD, and 7g of mushrooms, not at the same time, but I've never hallucinated. My speculation is that I'm such an ambitious daydreamer that my brain is like, nope, that's all you get.

I remember around age 13 figuring out that I could see anything I wanted in my imagination, and exploring that. I take pride in my visualization powers, but just the other day I noticed that the images have to be moving. I can turn a doorknob and open a door to outer space, but I can't just stare at a doorknob for even two seconds. So now I'm working on holding still images, and I find that it's easier in early morning, when my mind is still.

Related: a technique for overcoming aphantasia -- for people who can't see mental images, to learn to see them.

January 13. http://ranprieur.com/#c5ff60cdf799f69ab3915da1dd16b788e005d5c1 2023-01-13T13:30:01Z January 13. Lots of feedback on weight loss. Matt recommends intermittent fasting, where you start eating later in the day and stop eating sooner. I'm trying this, but rather than draw a line, and say "No eating before or after this time," I'm applying force: Let's see how late I can push breakfast, and how early I can stop evening snacking.

Erik says, "One thing to try is to over-feed yourself once per week, to give your body the signal that there's no lack of food in your environment."

Dan thinks obesity is related to nutrient depleted soils, because now we have to eat more calories to get enough other nutrients. This is supported by the observation that some people who lose weight end up being less healthy overall.

Thaddeus is finishing a book on the theory that weight gain is related to artificial light, so it helps to wear blue blocking lenses and not eat after dark. This is his YouTube channel.

And James mentions that the drug I predicted already exists. It's called Ozempic and it's in high demand, with unknown "side" effects that are now being tested in the wild. Also, as with many other weight loss strategies, if you stop, you tend to gain the weight back.

January 11. http://ranprieur.com/#fdeb77acb480aecd5b5577b8a83f78a2f21c92ea 2023-01-11T23:10:00Z January 11. I've written before about obesity, and how it isn't correlated with any category of food. Whether you blame sugar, fat, or carbs, there have been populations who ate more of it than we do, and didn't have a problem. The new thing we have is processed food, and something about that processing, or some contaminant in our environment, is throwing off our normally well-tuned sense of how much to eat.

This explains why dieters count calories. They have to use their heads because their bodies are no longer reliable. And whatever is causing it, it's finally caught up with me. This year, without changing anything about my eating habits, and actually walking more, my weight has been creeping up.

When I hit 170 (BMI 24) I said that's enough, I have to go on a diet. But I figure, if my body signaling is off, then I don't have to count calories -- I just have to correct for the error.

Surely it's too simple to say that hunger is what losing weight feels like. But the dieting industry is always trying to cheat that rule, to find a way to lose weight without feeling hungry, and they've had limited success. My strategy is to try to feel hungry. So far it's working, but I'm disappointed at how hungry I had to feel to just drop a few pounds.

But I'm wondering, if a substance can bend a sense one way, another substance can bend it the other way. Suppose we invent a weight loss drug that makes us feel like we're eating too many calories, when really we're not eating enough. "After ruling the earth for a mere ten thousand years, humans died of a mysterious wasting sickess."

January 6. http://ranprieur.com/#2b94da0ccb62cdf701d125c17ac9a27036590838 2023-01-06T18:20:05Z January 6. Two weeks ago I wrote, "The effect of AI on creative work, is that human creatives will have to learn to do stuff that AI can't do." It's already happening. Artist banned, told to "find a different style" since his style is too similar to AI-made art. But then, he submitted it to a subreddit with a smaller audience, and it was accepted. So maybe this isn't a problem of AI, but a problem of scale, where more users make a place harder to moderate.

And two helpful Reddit threads. From Psychonaut, What is the difference between self love and ego?

From Ask Old People, How have you made your life easier?

January 4. http://ranprieur.com/#95565266327d5928e96210123bacd92528fc1ce3 2023-01-04T16:00:14Z January 4. Continuing from Monday, another trick I use to walk better, is to pretend that my body is an advanced video game avatar that I'm trying out. I'm not sure why this works. My best guess is, it creates a context for observing the body, that offers more novelty and meaning than the one provided by our culture: that the body is a cumbersome meat sack that will give us pain if we don't give it enough attention.

More generally, why are games fun? Why is it that real life tasks, like prepping cilantro or flossing, are tedious chores, while game tasks can be just as fiddly and repetitive and yet we enjoy them? I think it's because games create a tighter context for tasks to feel rewarding.

This is a problem for complex society. As our actions are connected to more things, it becomes harder to grasp the value of whatever we're doing. Valuable actions like sorting trash can feel painful and degrading, while harmful actions can feel fun.

"Gamification" is a word mostly used by people playing a larger game of leveraging power into more power. Let's make it fun for the peasants to give us their data! But in a system that's not based on power over others (coming in about a thousand years) I don't see any reason to hold back from making life more game-like.

Related: Children who play video games show altered brain activity that suggests improved cognitive abilities, and For young adults, more time gaming may mean better executive functioning.

January 2, 2023. http://ranprieur.com/#1290b1797726c6355ec56305e90af455bdae0a35 2023-01-02T14:40:25Z January 2, 2023. The new year is a good time for self-improvement, but I don't wait for it. The main thing I've been working on lately is walking. I mentioned in a Reddit thread that my knees are in better shape at age 55 than they were at age 25, because back then I would walk around setting my feet down clumsily. Someone replied: Are you saying it takes 50 years to learn to walk?

No, but it could take hundreds of hours to learn to walk correctly, and not in a million years would my body have figured it out on its own. I'm a bad athlete, but even professional athletes put a lot of time into mechanics. The difference is, they have to focus on mechanics to perform at the highest level; I have to do it to perform with basic competence.

I've always noticed that my shoes develop a worn patch in the center of the right heel, as if I'm setting it down with a slight twist. Only last month did I bother to spend an entire minute actually watching myself walk, and catch that slight twist in action. Now, whenever I go heel-toe, I keep my head down and focus on my right leg, gradually building the habit of setting it down cleanly.

Mostly I walk on the balls of my feet, which is really hard to do without looking like a dweeb. By watching myself in windows along the street, I've discovered that the trick is to put more whip into my steps.

At the same time, I'm noticing exactly how my knees bend, and trying different ways of swinging my hips and arms. Leigh Ann says I either swing my arms too stiffly, or too loosely. She was the fastest runner in her elementary school, so she gives me unhelpful advice like "just feel it." But she can tell at a glance if I'm doing it right or wrong, and she's been helping me practice the George Jefferson walk, which is about as far as you can get from my habitual gait.