2018 Hugo Nomination Reviews

I usually try to read listen to audio books of all of the Hugo Nominees every year. This year it was slow going as I had some new and very attention grabbing people in my life, and as few of the books really grabbed me. Every single nominee is from an author I am well acquainted with, and 2 or 3 of them (depending on how you count) are sequels. None of them were really all that gripping, and none opened up a brand new perspective.

The Myth of the 7% Rate of Return

Let it be foretold: you wil receive 7% ROI annually

The commonly held myth of the middle class that an investment should return about 7% per year on average. This is the conventional wisdom, and largely based on the fact that the american stock market has averaged out to this number over a long period1.

Getting an affordable MRI (without a doctor's help)

How much should a shoulder MRI cost anyway?
For reasons that I'll talk about below, my wife needed an MRI quickly, and the orthopedic surgeon she saw was pretty much unwilling to write a referral for one.

I set out to see what I could do, and started by trying to figure out how much a shoulder MRI would cost in the united states if we just didn't use our insurance at all. My wife's initial guess was $7,000. My guess was $2,000 - $3,000 . Both of us think of medical pricing as quite opaque and somewhat random.

Buddhist Monk's Rules

I'm really interested in the classic philosophical question "how should we live". We all already have a set of answers to that implanted in our heads, though for most of us those answers are invisible, assumed to be "normal". Often the answers to these questions that we have, those given to us by our culture and our own conclusions are confused and at odds with themselves. Their relative invisibility makes them even harder to work with.

Aboriginal Dreamtime and Demographic Empowerment

demographic selection

The Australian aborigines refer to a specific state of altered consciousness as “the dreamtime”. The dreamtime has little to do with dreaming, it is a totally wakeful state of consciousness, where the person in the dreamtime becomes the archetype of all of their ancestors performing an action. For instance, if Fred the hunter were hunting, and entered the dreamtime, he would stop being “Fred” and become purely “the hunter”, a composite of spirit of all his ancestors and decedents hunting. A key thing here is that in the dreamtime he is not “a hunter”, but he is “the hunter”.

2017 Hugo Nominee Reviews

Some opinions on the Hugo Nominees:
Trashy Sci-fi can be fun when your in the mood, but I'm always in the mood for good sci-fi. Most years I try to read most, or all, of the Hugo nominees when they come out. It's often a rewarding process. 2015 and 2016 both felt like kind of weak years to me... but 2017 has been absolutely amazing.

Since I'm having a little writers block with my school-work I thought I would try to write something light to break it... so I'm going to share some of my rave reviews. So here are my picks in order:

16 Ways to Make Your Vote Count In CA

There's more going on this election season than the presidential election. As usual California voters will be asked to sort through the dizzying array of public policy choices and many of the propositions have the potential to swing on the votes of a few voters. (as opposed to the federal election, where California is solid, dark blue).
So Deepa (A first time voter in this country) & Harry spent some time to talk out the propositions, do a little cursory research, and share opinions... Which you can find below:

Harvesting Predictability

The difficulty of predicting things is, like many human endeavors, intuitively viewed with a competitive model. We only really give credit to people for forecasting when their abilities exceed our own, and at higher levels when they exceed the best that humanity can martial. Few are impressed by 100% accurate predictions of eclipses now that orbital mechanics is well understood, but once this was thought to be wisdom bordering on magic. The edge of predictability, which is in reach of some people, but not others is where it can be harvested for value.

On the other side of the Chinese Room

Searle writes in his first description of the argument: “Suppose that I'm locked in a room and … that I know no Chinese, either written or spoken”. He further supposes that he has a set of rules in English that “enable me to correlate one set of formal symbols with another set of formal symbols”, that is, the Chinese characters.

Use Four Ancient Methods of "Ars Memorativa" to Master Your Memory

How memory techniques work

Our memory is not equally well suited to all tasks. Some things are surprisingly easy to remember (like where our bed was in our childhood bedroom), others are quite difficult, like a random sequence of numbers. The art of memory is about figuring out how to use the strongest aspects of memory for everything, rather than about how to make our memory as a whole stronger. A physical analogy might be learning to lift things with our legs, rather than working on making our arms stronger.

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