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In this short story collection about characters who work as cleaning women, public school teachers and emergency room techs, Berlin shapes the often gritty and harrowing events of her packed life into rich, darkly funny, seductive prose. This master writer effortlessly introduces compelling characters and then exposes the connection between hubris and consequences.

A few decades ago, when boxing had a much bigger audience, Kram covered all the top fights for Sports Illustrated, and this collection of his profiles, essays and deadline reports demonstrates that he was among the great prose stylists of a golden era in magazine journalism. Nine short stories of simple, direct writing of rural Wyoming that conveys a deep appreciation of untouched nature and horses. These artful and economical stories examine the tightrope walked by characters who, operating under oppressive circumstances, often achieve poetic acts of revenge.

This epic work of culinary scholarship about the invisible legions of African-American cooks who shaped what we consider American cuisine is also an engrossing read.

Best collections of short stories, essays of 2015 | The Kansas City Star

Snapshots of cookbooks by black authors from Le Cordon Bleu-trained Leonard Roberts to Pearl Bailey will leave you hungry to own them all. In this state, he continues to read, finishing all seven hundred odd pages in the afternoon. The sun dips below the horizon, but Tim waits for him without complaint. Absolutely tasteless and low-brow! Such a thing hardly counts as literature, my friend. At those words, monk Zhi was enlightened and sight returned to his right eye.

It was the first time in recorded history that one man achieved enlightenment twice in the same day. A bit less than two months ago, I set out to write about instrumental rationality every day for thirty days. In this post, I will quickly evaluate how well I felt I did along each of my four stated objectives. I will simultaneously evaluate all the Hammertime techniques and ideas by their effectiveness to my life. Thus, I do not plan to blog any more about it for a while.

However, I do want to express my strong intent to write a fourth cycle of Hammertime in the early months of , if only to check my long-term progress. I will grade myself on the four goals I stated in the first Intermission thread:. My reasons for writing this sequence were, in clear order of importance: On reflection, these were equally important goals and I only listed them in that relative order because I believed the later ones would be harder to achieve.

I will grade everything out of , counting up from zero. Only the relative sizes of the numbers mean anything. This worked out quite well. I produce content about three times faster than I did at the beginning of Hammertime, with perhaps the slightest decrease in quality. Speed I value as much as strength, so this was an amazing improvement. There are things like organization and style I should have played around with more, and a Yoda Timer of copy-editing after each post would have benefited the writing quality greatly. Through this process I was forced to reflect on, try out, and push the boundaries of almost every single technique in the manual.

Handful of posts that were really fun to write, and still look fun to read. What am I missing? Also, detailed and entertaining expositions of science are sorely missing in my writing — this seems like a gold mine as well. Not sure this sequence is any better as pedagogical material than just the CFAR Handbook, which is a moderately dry reference manual. A handful of people seemed to benefit quite a bit, but my sense is that even among the people who read every post, few did any of the exercises or got any mileage out of this sequence over learning what the concept handles are.

Perhaps an interested reader would like to take a couple hours and reassemble the most useful parts of Hammertime into a cleaner subsequence. As a resource on instrumental rationality instruction at most half of the posts in Hammertime are of high value. Very impressed with myself that I followed through with this project with only minor delays. Everything went approximately as well as could be Outside-View expected. My main takeaway is to continue throwing myself headlong into medium-term projects without thinking too much about them, and trust my instincts.

I will go through the core techniques I covered in Hammertime, and grade them each based on effectiveness in my own life. Note that the techniques in Hammertime were already pre-selected from a larger pool of techniques based on how good they seemed to me just after CFAR. Probably had three or four over the course of Hammertime. Timers and deadlines really up my game. Sometimes I think that if grad school was structured as a serious of olympiads except with open problems, I would get a lot more work done.

Amortizing everything, allowing myself to remove trivial inconveniences, spending time making my physical space better. Substantially improved my baseline quality of life: If I gave up actively using instrumental rationality right now, the effects of the Design choices I made in the last two months would still last for years.

Gave me the tools to push through many minor unendorsed aversions and try things instinctively. I feel as if combating the tendrils of nihilism in everyday life is one of the biggest problems to solve. Silence was my first attempt at framing the problem and offering a partial solution. As always, people need to allow themselves to babble more. Requires more iteration and work to make it actionable. Noticing the value of and setting up long-term iterated conversations with friends was extremely valuable. Experimenting with this also led me into a handful of awkward social situations and unproductive conversations.

It feels as painful and difficult to practice as reading ability in Go — life is too chaotic. Perhaps after I collect more data about common failure modes Murphyjitsu will be more useful. As of now, I feel woefully uncalibrated. On the plus side, did inspire my longest work of fiction to date. Weird and unnatural to practice.

Handful of useful things I thought I installed rapidly faded with time. TAPs seem to last about a week for me without some other regular reinforcement mechanism. The only real value seems to be as a method for generating Focusing targets. This is pretty valuable, but still. Much weaker than Focusing. This is part 30 of 30 in the Hammertime Sequence. One of the overarching themes from CFAR, related to The Strategic Level , is that what you learn at CFAR is not a specific technique or set of techniques, but the cognitive strategy that produced those techniques.

It follows that if I learned the right lessons from CFAR, then I would be able to produce qualitatively similar — if not as well empirically tested — new principles and approaches to instrumental rationality. Hammertime was that sort of test for me. I will give three essay prompts and three difficulty levels. Original ideas would be great, but shining a new light on old hammers is also welcome! Write one essay on one of the topics above.

Steel Cudgel of the Lion mode. Write two of three. Vorpal Dragonscale Sledgehammer of the Whale mode. For each essay, give yourself five minutes to brainstorm and five minutes to write. Each day, he would draw a single egg over and over.

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He must have produced thousands of sketches and paintings of eggs. His teacher knew exactly how important fundamentals are. The first move you make in any interaction with a new acquaintance should be a cooperate, even if you expect them to defect. Perhaps even if you observe them defecting already. Cooperating First feels like accepting an unfair game from the inside. There will be many situations in life where things are framed in a slightly but noticeably unfair way towards you initially.

Err on the side of accepting these games anyway! One of my main complaints about rationalists myself included is our tendency to escalate to the meta-level too often. For example, in any given discussion, arguments over general discussion norms get much more heated and lively than any discussion of the underlying subject matter. We need to spend more time at the object level, touching reality, making experiments, testing our hypotheses.

Look at the folds in your clothes, the way light and shadow play off each other. The way threads interweave. Pinch the cloth and watch the creases reorganize under your fingers.


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Pre-hindsight is a version of Murphyjitsu where you query your mind for what you will learn from an action in hindsight. Pre-excuses are an unproductive cousin that often derail my work.

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As a serial procrastinator, I notice a fairly regular pattern of thinking that appears the couple days before I have to meet a professor, and especially before meeting my thesis adviser. My mind is already spinning excuses on overdrive. This is part 29 of 30 in the Hammertime Sequence. I find myself dragging my feet on the last couple days of each Hammertime cycle. From this and several other data points, I think current my writing attention span is around a week, and drafts and outlines sitting for more than a week feel too stale to finish. Had I known this in advance, I would probably have structured Hammertime as six 5-day sprints.

You playing a game of Go against sensei.

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On move twenty-four, sensei invades your three-space extension with devastating precision, cutting a group you thought was safe into two scattered dragons. It dies with abandon.

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The right dragon, now facing the massive wall sensei built up by attacking the left group, tries frantically to make life locally. Its second eye is poked out unceremoniously by a well-placed tesuji. What is a novice supposed to learn from a game like this? If your teacher leaves you to your own devices to review the game, you might easily conclude any of the following, if not a dozen other things:.

You lose handily by points. The kind of learning above is definitely not strategic. Such overly general lessons can be cures worse than the disease. As your simple strategies progressively fail, you need to come up with and try more and more complicated strategies. I should have just read out that dan-level life and death problem!

Best collections of short stories, essays of | The Kansas City Star

I should have just studied chapter 3 instead of chapter 2! I should have just tried to use the polynomial method on that problem! The learning stopsign simply says: At very least, learn to recognize unproductive over-correction and to drive past learning stopsigns. When you encounter a failure and make a snap judgment about what went wrong, ask yourself: This is part 28 of 30 in the Hammertime Sequence. I had the following series of thoughts the other day after yet another aborted run. I wish there was a tier list for Slay the Spire cards.

I bet there is a tier list online. Maybe I can make a tier list. From Steppes to Steps It is tradition to seek wisdom at the Shaolin Temple as the final step towards manhood. Tim climbs the steps to the temple four at a time. Dismayed and angered at the sudden assault, Qiang pushes himself up to retaliate — — only to find that his spine now stands upright, his bowed legs straight and graceful, and his once-wrinkled skin stretches taught as fresh canvas across his bones.

Tim slides back down the line gracefully. The joy of mathematics. The passion of StarCraft. Pride and the fall. Finally, after a long wait, Zhi finishes the sentence. Finally, monk Zhi sets it aside, still laughing. March 22, Hammertime Postmortem Intro.