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Ask HN: What's the most life-changing blog post you've ever read?
614 points by michalu on Aug 19, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 380 comments
... any blog post that had a major impact on your life, workflow, career, understanding, etc. qualifies.

7 years ago I had just aborted an internship, my foray into being an employed adult, because I found myself unable to deal with disagreements. Contrary to my naive hope that the confidence boost from being a Professional Software Developer(tm) would solve all my emotional problems I now knew that my limitations would follow me around anywhere I would go. But I had no idea how to change and was too stuck in my own anxiety and arrogance to ask for help.

Around that time I Somehow stumbled upon this[1] article on how to make a Buddhist bone trumpet. It took me completely by surprise, the topic, the author, the tone, the context of Buddhism, nothing fit together like I expected. It was the most absurd thing I ever read and I kept laughing, at the same time it felt utterly genuine. My curiosity piqued I read the other less bizarre articles from the author about Buddhism and life in general. It dawned on me that my attempt at completely controlling my life had, in fact, caused me to lose control over it. The process of learning to accept unpredictability and open myself to the world, that started the evening I read that article, was by no means always this fun, but looking back boy was it worth it.

[1] https://buddhism-for-vampires.com/kangling-chod

> It dawned on me that my attempt at completely controlling my life had, in fact, caused me to lose control over it.

So many enlightened people have quoted this as the one thing that matters most than anything else.

I read this article "This column will change your life"[1] about an Indian philosopher named Jiddu Krishnamurti many many years ago but this passage really stuck with me:

Krishnamurti went on to give countless talks at which he frequently implied that his audience shouldn't be wasting their time listening to spiritual talks. But perhaps the most striking was a 1977 lecture in California.

"Part-way through this particular talk," writes Jim Dreaver, who was present, "Krishnamurti suddenly paused, leaned forward and said, almost conspiratorially, 'Do you want to know what my secret is?' " (There are several accounts of this event; details vary.) Krishnamurti rarely spoke in such personal terms, and the audience was electrified, Dreaver recalls. "Almost as though we were one body we sat up… I could see people all around me lean forward, their ears straining and their mouths slowly opening in hushed anticipation."

Then Krishnamurti, "in a soft, almost shy voice", said: "You see, I don't mind what happens."

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/10/stop-mi...

In his early days Jiddu Krishnamurti was touted as the World Teacher by the Theosophists who 'discovered' and trained him. They made him the main guy of the Order of the Star. Then he stood up at a convention of about 3,000 members and disbanded the whole thing, abandoning the role they'd prepared. He said:

> I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path.

I can't remember the article/blog post now but it was a commentary on that one quote, which led to further reading of his books and a certain view on life (I appreciate the irony/contradiction given the quote, and I'm not a 'follower' of his).

The same author, Oliver Burkeman, wrote a similarly life-changing book as well, entitled The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. Besides Buddhism, it also covers stoicism, the inevitability of death, and other topics having to do with the thesis that trying to be happy makes it harder to be.

> Finding a Femur: You probably already have at least a couple of femurs around the house. However, it is usually best to find one whose original owner no longer has any use for it.

Reminds me of stoicism. If it's outside your control, don't bother too much. Face your challenges and do the best you can, being a better you.

Great wisdom presents itself with different faces to different people throughout time, but maintains the same essence. That's what makes it wisdom. It is eternal and unchanging, it just takes perspective to see.

I had exactly the same epiphany while reading Meditations. I thought, "wow, this sounds an awful lot like the Buddhism I've read/heard about".

Again, after reading Ralph Waldo Emerson I saw the same wisdom with a different face. I realized that all these people throughout time came independently to precisely the same conclusions about how to live life as part of the great "wholeness" (for lack of a better word) to which we all belong.

My experience with Buddhism is mostly limited to interactions with an old Buddhist friend, but in terms of literature I found Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and J. D. Salinger's Teddy to be very palatable from a western perspective.

For stoic philosophy you can really do no better than Marcus Aurelius's meditations, specifically the more modern Gregory Hays translation. Epictectus's discourses are pretty good too, but are less pithy and have a lower signal to noise ratio when it comes to true wisdom IMO.

Emerson's Self Reliance, History, and finally The Oversoul will reveal the same wisdom from all the other works I mentioned.

This idea is called the Perennial Philosophy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy

Aldous Huxley wrote a book about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Perennial_Philosophy

Brilliant! Thank you for pointing this out, I was unaware of this notion. From the first link,

> "In the early 19th century the Transcendentalists propagated the idea of a metaphysical Truth and universalism"

So it seems it was not a coincidence Emerson stuck out to me when I first read him (Emerson was a foundational Transcendentalist).

It is very beautiful and interesting to me that Stoics and Buddhists arrived at very similar conclusions despite being thousands of miles apart and having little to no contact.

Seems like mainstream folks tend to give credits of life wisdom to Buddhism and Stoicism but let’s not forget the Bible also mentioned the same in the book of Luke: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ https://bible.com/bible/114/luk.17.33.NKJV

As others said, Buddhists and Stoics were earlier. Some Christian writings were definitely influenced by those lines of thought though, yes.

Speaking for myself, another reason I enjoy Buddhism and Stoicism is that they feel more like pure, distilled wisdom. Especially Zen Buddhism. Christian writings are filled with excessive moralizing and mythology, which enables all sorts of problems.

That's because they did it centuries before Christianity?

There was some interaction between Greece and India, and it's possible some thought from the Indian subcontinent may have influenced the founders of scepticism.


While there isn't much direct evidence to support this theory, both philosophies have some ideas related to mindfulness that are too similar to me to be a coincidence.

Christianity has the same idea too, at least if you count the Serenity Prayer. Probably not an independent discovery though, I imagine its creator (a theologian) took the idea from Greek philosophy.

> God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

> courage to change the things I can,

> and wisdom to know the difference.

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_Prayer#Genuine_precur...

Yes, this is the most stoic/zen prayer that I've ever heard from a Christian context. I like it a lot.

Unfortunately Christianity suffers from excessive moralizing and mythology, which turns me away from it. But it definitely has lines of thought that descended from stoic thinking.

They did have a lot of contact. I read about it from some Buddhist scholar, but I can't remember where.

Somewhat. At a higher level being a stoic, gets you closer to the Buddhist mindset. Buddhism tends to differ in its acknowledgment that the active practice of stoicism (as a discipline) is still a pursuit, and thus still a means to assert control.

Also a fan of David Chapman here. Really looking forward to him finishing at least one of the books.

Yes, his writings are very interesting. I believe his two main sites are



> It dawned on me that my attempt at completely controlling my life had, in fact, caused me to lose control over it.

Could you possibly unpack this for me a little bit? It strikes me as absolutely true for me, too, or at least sounds like it could be true, but I'm pulling at a thread I can't quite grasp.

Warning: Buddhism redox and incomplete ahead. The purpose of what I write is to whet your appetite and maybe spark an interest for a personal journey. I strongly advise and even recommend a proper introduction. I suggest D T Suzuki and Alan Watts for their introduction to Zen. Amazing vulgarisers of these concepts. Watts' lectures are available on YouTube.

In the Buddhist philosophy the notion that you can control anything other than yourself is considered absurd. Even conceding that you have control over yourself is being generous. A need for control then becomes a major source of frustration, or as it's often referred to in this context, dissatisfaction or suffering. By studying the philosophy, you gradually untangle the absurdity and you progressively start to see the theory be manifested in reality. You then learn to accept it and see the absurdity of your own desire for control.

I can say that to you and it might make sense. But that's still at the theoretical level. For it to be true to you, you need to make the journey yourself.

As the bumper sticker says: "Don't believe everything you think." :) Thoughts have a mind of their own.

I tried so hard to make everything go as I wanted that I increasingly avoided situations where I couldn't predict how they would go. That included stuff like talking about my feelings or asking for a favor or eventually going grocery shopping(anything could happen!! ;). Of course those are all pretty useful things and my difficulty with them convinced me even more that I had to absolutely make sure I had covered every eventuality.

This is also a deep principle of physics. Very simple systems can be "linear" and you can say "okay, if you tweak this little knob, e.g. increase the input, then such-and-so is what must happen, e.g. an increase in the output." But most interactions and feedback loops and so forth create a "complex system" and the result of tweaking one knob is not always what you'd expect -- you add more cars to a freeway and the throughput drops radically. Sounds like you were turning up the "control things" knob, and things got progressively more out of control -- this is quite common.

Another example is that often people who give up dieting will lose weight and keep it off. What matters is not the calories but the health of the relationship with food, and if the diet is taking an unhealthy relationship and making it even more dysfunctional, then how could it help?

Of course, you found the Buddhist solution which is quite meritorious in its own right and served me well at a difficult time in my life. There is also a Christian mystic solution which has similar aspects.

Why do you need to understand this sentence? So that you can use that new knowledge to alter the set of concepts that you have of life, ideally improving them, so that you are more able to control your life, to steer it in a better direction? Because you want to be alright? The point is to let go

I'm intrigued because at first it appears to be a paradoxical statement, but with a potentially logical answer.

In addition to that though, I think I (and others?) make sense of the world through narrative and there is value to other people's narratives, though that may be in conflict with the context of your comment.

It's a Zen game he's playing with you :). The point is to let go, but letting go can also become a pursuit, in which case you're not really letting go. You're right about the paradox, you're possibility wrong about the existence of a logical answer.

The idea of controlling ones life presupposes that there is “one”, that is separate from life, so that the “one” can control life. It presupposes some kind of separation in the field of experience.

I recommend listening to some Alan Watts lectures on youtube (try to find a long video, the short ones are usually just bits with music added).

Maybe you can also think about "Maximizers vs Satisficers" as in this article: https://www.psychologistworld.com/cognitive/maximizers-satis...

Trying to find "the best option" or trying to totally control the outcome is counter productive. You lose your options, you lose your time.

While being satisficer you accept some parts that might not be perfect and your life moves forward. You open more options as you are not stuck on picking exactly the right washing machine and you open time and headspace for other avenues.

One more logic-focused on it is that control is a false concept in general. You can only choose what to control what you think about at best but outside factors are out of your control so you become a slave to those changing factors. So, effectively, attempting to control external factors makes the external factors control your thinking.

Imagine leading an animal into a cage with food. To that animal, they are controlling their food intake and their lunch! In that attempt to exert control over the situation they have lost all primary control.

You can make aims in your life, and try to work towards goals and build willpower. You can aim to surround yourself with people that you believe will help you grow and be positive influences on you, for instance. Or you can aim avoid people that you think won't. You will still run into the whole gamut at the grocery store, however.

Controlling your thoughts is another matter. Just try to stop thinking for an entire minute. Don't have any thoughts. Alternately, only think about 1 thing. You very probably cannot do it. We don't choose what to think, but we can choose how we react (or not) to our thoughts. You CAN choose to accept the thoughts as they come and not identify with them, deciding "oh, that's a thought, how interesting". This is in opposition to what we normally do, which is to act on every little thought that floats along or decide to 'grab' onto the thoughts and stay with them while going down whatever rabbit hole they lead us into.

Your point does stand, control is a false concept in general.

Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice makes it quite clear that you can (and are expected to, eventually) change which thoughts arise in the first place.

> It dawned on me that my attempt at completely controlling my life had, in fact, caused me to lose control over it.

I genuinely think this is the key to happiness and success in general. Roll with the waves rather than trying to fight them. You can guide your life while still smelling the roses along the way.

It would be funny if this was true at both an individual level and global level.

Hmm. Following on that thought, globally, controlling our environment on a global scale seems to have resulted in a total loss of control of the environment.

That was quite the rabbit hole.

Thank you. I could be in the same state than you were, possibly. Now, I'm intrigued and open to read more.

Inspiring. Thanks for sharing.


This article inspired me on two things :

1) Lots of the things I do in everyday life is just to consume: buying, watching, following, etc. These things either consume my money, or my time. These things make me feel good, but it does not generate real value. In order to get rich, I need to create things. I also start to realize that great people are great because they started to create things at a very early stage of their life (but not consuming things as they advocate, think about celebrities, entrepreneurs etc), so they are able to practice and perfect the value creating skills to the extreme.

2) I start to realize that the world is binary in nature : I create to sell, I buy to consume. I either at the buyer side, or at the seller side. And in this current society, there is a huge buyer side trap, the whole idea of consumerism and social media is to trap you inside the buyer side, so you keep buying, you keep consuming. I really need to break free from this trap.

This blog post was written before COVID-19, but the idea feels even fresher during this pandemic era

I don't agree with the overall take that the world is binary in that way at all..

You create to sell? No, I think a fundamental part, for example of art, is that it can be created for no reason whatsoever. To give a personal example, I really enjoy music production and playing piano.. but I do it only for myself and have fun doing so.. i don't even share it with anyone. Does that mean I am creating but not selling? And does that mean it is wrong and a waste of my time and I should stop doing it? No, I'm just creating for the sake of creating.

Another thing I don't understand, is your end goal in life to get rich? And do you equal being rich with being happy?

That's not my worldview at all. I mainly care about three things, curiosity, ethics and empathy. But definitely curiosity, being able to learn everyday is what makes me happy. But that doesn't fit into what your explaining, I don't have to create and sell anything with what I've learned because the act of learning already gives me happiness.

Maybe I'm the weird one but I truly find that a life with the sole goal of selling and accruing wealth seems boring.

Yeah, I agree with all of this. A lot of these types of posts and responses give me strange vibes, like people going through life trying to minmax everything and 'win' it as if it was a game.

It's an attitude I encounter frequently in tech circles, but it never stops feeling very weird to me.

You are not weird at all. I feel the same. Being rich is not a goal in itself. It is just a tool that you might use to solve your real goal. However if you don’t think deeply enough to realise what your real goal is then you might not realise that most goals can be achieved without becoming rich.

There are two kinds of people in this world those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who think there are not.

One can argue that you are buying an experience with your time and services in this framework rather than money. Kinda just shortcutting the wealth transfer bit. Not that I agree with the framework at all. (It narrows down to Objectivism really and makes no real sense in long-form concepts. In what part of this framework does a mother jumping in front of a bus to save her child does this fit?)

> Another thing I don't understand, is your end goal in life to get rich? And do you equal being rich with being happy?

Here's the deal: in a capitalist system, being rich may not equal being happy, but it certainly does equal being secure. The average worker is a lot less secure now that the days of "a job for life" are gone, and prices for housing, education, and health care have gone through the roof.

So your real goal is not to become rich but to become secure. Being rich doesn’t make you secure. You still have to worry about loosing your wealth, people trying to take advantage of you, raising your kids to be mentally happy/stable without just living off your wealth, not knowing if people are truly your friends etc. etc.

Okay, I get that. But in that case, wouldn't you say that the system itself is flawed/unjust and that you should rather put your efforts into changing that system?

Because if you focus on you making money to make your situation more secure, you're only solving the problem for yourself... which seems selfish and a bit unethical to me.

But I understand, we all have to live in a system and under circumstances we didn't choose and I guess we have to make the best of it.

>I realized that reading a book was really just like reading Reddit—both were consumptive activitives.

I disagree on this but I love and agree with the premise of the blog post. Comparing reddit to Moby Dick could not be further off. reddit (or any similar site) is a shill/bad actor/agitator/troll cesspool full of memes and clickbait.

It is important to learn to tell good shit from bad shit. Consume things produced by masters of their craft. Try not to settle for less, you have limited time here. Use this to create more.

The quality of consumption is different for sure, but I would argue that certain areas of reddit are of high value to my job, hobbies, etc. and Moby Dick is of little value those areas and quality of life in general. You could perhaps make arguments about historical value, context, or benefits to reading comprehension, but at the end of the day, reading anything is about only as good as the information you're taking in.

I would argue that reading Moby Dick is of value to your quality of life in general. Good fiction speaks to the human condition and can help us live our lives more fully.

And it makes things richer just in your daily life to have some familiarity with history and the literary canon instead of being deaf to its influence all around you.

I will respectfully disagree that it leads to a more 'full life' for everyone. People have different perspectives, values, etc. and that type of experience is purely subjective. I personally think it's of some value, but not as much as some other content.

Yeah, so? The same applies to most of everything. Different things resonate with and provide value to different people.

What 'other content' are you referring to that is exempt from this?

> People have different perspectives

You make my point for me.

Comparing Reddit to one book is not a proper comparison. Instead, compare Reddit as a whole to books as a whole. Most books are not worth reading.

> It is important to learn to tell good shit from bad shit

That would apply within Reddit, as well. Find the good subreddits and the good comments.

> That would apply within Reddit, as well.

And HN.

While I do agree with your first point, I think it's a bit .. obvious. Of course you need to create value in order to be great (or get rich).

Regarding the article, it doesn't match my experience. All the prolific creators I know (about) are prolific consumers as well. Writers are known to read a lot. The girl the author saw sketching on the bus probably loves looking at and reading about art and does it often as well as actually creating art.

The other issue is the amount of creative effort you can spend. For example, software engineering is a very creative job and often at the end of the day I just have no energy left to create more.

I think those of us with leisure time or "bullshit" work struggle with these questions, but I find that the consumption/creation dichotomy is the wrong approach. Arguably almost everything is consumptive in some capacity, from creating art (which is indulgent and pleasurable) to unnecessary programs (they're all unnecessary) or any other passtime. I would further reduce the problem to one of stimulus and desire. Execution and completion of tasks is in itself cognitively satisfying, that's in part why smartphone games can be so addictive, you can "fake" the experience in rapid fashion. The mechanism behind the dopamine release etc doesn't care about the context behind it, that is an existential problem. We like the flow experience. That can be "deep" work, or not.

The question of meaning behind our actions is one divorced from this, and obviously not so easily determined as whether or not an action is creative. Some of the most effective altruistic actions are boring. I'm of the type that has short bouts of investigative interest in certain topics, and that wanes, so I can't count on merely my "mood" to finish projects. I had read anecdotally that authors in particular seem to derive satisfaction from having completed a work, and find that driving themselves to finish it can be torturous. I feel that way about my projects.

Personally, it's a good day if I've "executed" and completed a lot at work. There is no objective reason why this ought to be better than those days where I struggle to finish a single assignment, but that is human nature. You can satisfy such a creature with social validation and the feedback of completing tasks, until maybe you broach the problem of meaning. I wonder how many of us in the future will spend most of our time dwelling in virtual worlds where nothing is real. If we do, then meaning is cheap.

> And in this current society, there is a huge buyer side trap, the whole idea of consumerism and social media is to trap you inside the buyer side, so you keep buying, you keep consuming.

Aside from bankruptcy, buying and selling are actually completely balanced in a modern market economy. Even “saving” money is actually best considered as selling it. Earning money is obviously selling your time and bodily energy (those are the only finite things you have that are inputs into the system).

Borrowing is selling your future money to someone who wants to take on the risk.

Why do you have to create to sell? Creating just to create is the best kind of creation.

yeah it is not a reflection of causality, it is just that to sell is to create

If you /really/ want to make money, you don't sell. You buy and rent out.

I like that.

Wow, really great article. I think there is nuance to consumption as others have pointed out. Regardless, this article really resonated with me and I appreciate you bringing it into my perspective.

I think I've been adjusting my life style to that idea for a couple months now. Being alone without friends for a few years makes working much more fun then I remember. Great article.

I don't understand this worldview. I guess appreciating art or music, or bullshitting with friends, or just enjoying some time off with a beer and a movie is lumped into the evils of consumption?

And by replacing all of this filthy filthy idleness with endless creation just to be creating, we... achieve enlightenment?

I guess it seems like this author is driving himself to write and write not so much because he loves it or loves books or anything, but more out of a drive to discipline himself into working constantly

You're looking at it way too absolutely. The author's point wasn't to say you need to spend every waking minute creating and all other time is wasted. They/we should consider the ratio of time spent creating(and doing -- not all doing is creating), vs passively consuming. In the modern technological world, there are more ways to fill your entire existence with consumption than ever before. The point was to be conscious of that and achieve a balance, because creation/doing tends to have more lasting personal value.

The title is literally "Consume less, create more," not "Consume none, create always".

This is a fantastic article. While I agree with the author for the most part, its a fine line between not reading anything at all and only creating. After all the author has a signup page to receive more of his content. I don't think the author meant that you should not read anything at all. The takeaway for me is:- 1. Be conscious of what you are reading. 2. Realize the opportunity cost of what you are reading/watching. 3. Always be creating something.

Regarding point #2: you can also create for your own pleasure. Not everything has to be a product.

Coincidentally, here's a fitting answer to the GP and your comment: https://www.robinsloan.com/notes/home-cooked-app/

If you keep reading murakami and Dan brown, sure you’re just juggling words for no real benefit. But if you’re gonna read the making of the atomic bomb, or team of teams, then maybe it’s not a wasteful exercise. Definitely better than writing if you ask me.

Disagree on this. I used to only read non-fiction, but these days, I feel like reading fiction (especially literary fiction) and having different experiences and empathizing with characters is more beneficial and relevant to my life in _general_ (obviously not always the case). Plus there are no limits to the realities that can be created in fiction, so there are some creative (and escapist) benefits there as well.

I'm not saying fiction is objectively more "beneficial" than non-fiction, I'm just saying the opposite isn't necessarily true either.

It’s as beneficial as listening to music or watching tv is. It’s not inherently more beneficial just because it involves books. No one said tv or music is bad for you and neither is fiction. Just remember it’s entertainment for the most part. Im yet to see someone become wiser because they consume a ton of fiction.

I agree on that, I would like to add that for some of the time, consuming helps us create better. Different kind of consuming activities actually have different leverage on creating value

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.

-Stephen King

Something I think about is the desire to share especially when it's not done yet (ego satisfaction). I got into that cycle, sharing things that were like dreams before they even existed/noteworthy. "wouldn't it be cool if..."

Why do you want to become rich? Honest question. What problems are you trying to solve by becoming rich? And are there other ways to solve those problems?

Umberto Eco once wrote that the purpose of your life is what you leave behind.

I find value in this in both creating and doing nothing.

> In order to get rich, I need to create things.

Why do you want to get rich?

I've been thrilled to have a life of consuming and not creating.

Wow, thanks for this. Really eye-opening and I see a myself in authors shoes.

In fall of 2018, I read a blog post by Dan Luu called "The googlebot monopoloy".


It's a short blog post that I've probably read a thousand times at this point. He wrote about how websites give Google a big advantage when it comes to web crawling and how that big advantage probably makes it harder for other search engines to compete with Google. This was a pretty striking idea to me and there was a lot of talk at the time about antitrust and Big Tech. Dan's post had been written in 2015, so I was sure that a ton of other people, especially DC policy people, already knew about this and were talking about it. Right?

Turns out, basically nobody in DC knew anything about this. A ton of website operators complain about it on their own forums like HN and SEO, it's not hard to find people griping about the cost of Bing's crawlers, but those people never saw fit to tell anybody in DC about this and how it impacts the market for general purpose search engines and gives Google such an advantage. So I started writing down everything that I was finding about Google's web crawling advantage and writing it in a way that policy people could understand these things called web crawlers they had probably never heard much about before.

And, long story short, the policy people were very grateful that I had gotten in touch and explained all this, and I got cited in the Big Tech Antitrust report published by Congress last summer and then featured in The New York Times:



So, Dan's blog post has had a pretty big impact on my life so far and it's not quite done yet. The pandemic has slowed me down this year much more than it did last year, but I'm working on preparing to submit a paper to an economics journal for peer review that lays out the dynamics of web crawling, why Google accrues this advantage and why it matters. I'm very grateful to Dan for writing that post and, as far as career advice goes, I heartily recommend going back every once in a while and rereading everything he has ever written. Who knows what else he's hiding in there?

The difference between Bing and Google's crawlers causes me physical pain.

As part of a team that runs several large sites, the performance difference between them is stunning, but not any any way complimentary to Bing. We want Bing to do better. We want them to challenges Google pole position.

Bingbot will crawl the exact same set pages 10 times in a week, and will make hundreds of requests per minute doing so. Googlebot will crawl them once, at a much more reasonable pace.

The bandwidth and power costs we incur from Bing crawlers are a hundredfold (at least) what we incur from Googlebot.

Please, Microsoft, make Bingbots not suck so badly.


If you see cooking primarily as a means of getting nutrients rather than a hobby, I very strongly recommend getting an electric pressure cooker. It greatly simplifies cooking because it's automated. Just add the ingredients, close the lid, press a button, and wait. You will get a perfectly cooked one-pot meal with minimum effort. You can even mix fresh and frozen ingredients and the timer won't start until the frozen ingredients are thawed. If you don't overfill it the only thing the food touches is the inner stainless steel pot, so it's very easy to clean. I get the majority of my nutrition from food cooked this way. I can't imagine going back to slow traditional methods.

It also makes dried legumes far more practical, because you can skip the pre-soak phase. If you eat a lot of legumes, and you switch from canned to dried, the savings will most likely pay for the cost of the machine within a few years. In addition, energy costs are reduced because cooking at increased pressure is faster, and good electric pressure cookers are insulated. I am happy with an Instant Pot brand one, although I don't guarantee they are the best. If somebody has strong opinions on which is best then please post them.

The one major downside is the texture of the food can become boring, because everything is mixed together and you can't make crispy foods with it, but you can always add things like pickles after you've cooked it.

First time I see this post (thanks for sharing!). I bought one of these 2 years ago and it was life changing indeed. Stuffing it with vegetables and meat before going to the gym; come back and everything is done.

About boring food; it might not be crispy, but you can make amazing meats in it. Try slow cooking pork collar boneless[0] with honey and mustard.

Sous vide for all the hype has had similar benefits for me. Some recipes can take a long time, but same as on an electric pressure cooker things are completely automated and hands off. There's no need to monitor or stir, and the results are always great and always repeatable. Chicken breasts are always perfect, salmon, steak, etc... (also works on some veggie recipes)

If you get a Ninja Foodi, it has an air dryer mode that does make crispy things (like crispy chicken) in addition to the pressure cooking. There's even a model with Sous Vide.

12 functions: Pressure Cook, Air Fry/Air Crisp, Steam, Slow Cook, Yogurt, Sear/Sauté, Bake/Roast, Broil, Dehydrate, Sous Vide, Reheat, Keep Warm


> If you see cooking primarily as a means of getting nutrients rather than a hobby, I very strongly recommend getting an electric pressure cooker.

Oh hi there!

Do you have any recipes that you recommend? I actually bought an Instant Pot a couple months ago, and so far have found one great one pot meal that I cook in bulk on the weekend - basically tomatoes + sweet potatoes + peppers + beans + quinoa. Toss it all in and press a button, magic.

I like to eat as healthily as possible, so I'm interested to hear if you have any go-to staple recipes for the instant pot that you'd suggest :)

When i'm cooking in this mode, i use a rice cooker to cook lentils, the Puy / French / lentilles vertes / speckled type. I like those because they retain a lot of texture when cooked, and have a decent flavour. Dry lentils, olive oil (apply to the dry lentils and stir to coat), water, fraction of a stock cube or some miso paste, garlic, herbs, spices, whatever else you like; cook on the white rice programme. Extremely easy, pretty tasty, and with loads of scope for variation.

As an addition, sliced chorizo is great, the spicy pork fat melts out and improves everything. Lardons are almost as good. You can float a chicken thigh on top, and it will cook nicely, but won't get crispy, but you can finish it up under the grill. Sliced onion is remarkably good, soaks up the stock and comes out juicy. I often add leafy brassicas like cabbage or kale, not very exciting but it's healthy.

I've used the same rice cooker on a slow cooking setting to cook beef ragout, something like cassoulet, and pork knuckle.

A pressure cooker can do all this, but can do the high-temperature bits faster!

Wow, thanks. That sounds very tasty. I've cooked lentils, but only indian-curry-style and on a stove, never in a rice cooker. Can I ask how long you cook them for in the rice cooker? I imagine dried lentils to be like beans in that they require pre-soaking and/or a long cooking time - is that right? Also, do you add the kale in near the end, or let it cook the whole way through?

>Do you have any recipes that you recommend?

Not sure of your dietary preferences, but one of the big advantages of the Instant Pot is being able to cook cheaper, less palatable cuts of meat. It can also cook an entire frozen chicken in under an hour...

I do eat chicken a few times a week, so this is good to know, especially the ability to cook from frozen. Could I just throw some frozen chicken breasts in there with whatever else I want to eat it with, and pressure cook it for say 30 mins?

I've been using my instant pot and your meal sounds great but I am unfortunately hopeless at cooking. Can you let me know what you do with those ingredients? Do you dice the potatoes/peppers? Do you have to cook the beans/quinoa first? How long?

Hey, I'm not the parent poster, but anyway...

You'll want to cut up the potatoes and peppers, but when you're cooking them like this, the size doesn't matter much, it's just what you prefer. I'd go a bit chunkier -- smaller will have all the flavors blend more, chunkier and you'll be able to taste the separate ingredients a bit better.

Quinoa definitely does not need to be pre-cooked -- it cooks very quickly. If you're putting in dry beans, you'll want to use the "multigrain" setting for... 60 minutes I think? And add plenty of water for the beans and quinoa to absorb.

If you're using canned beans or pre-cooked beans, you can drop that time down to 15 minutes or so, that should be plenty for the quinoa to cook.

I'd also probably add some spices. You just gotta experiment and see what you like. Make sure you add enough -- when making a big pot of food, don't just add a little spice. I think cumin and/or coriander would go nicely with this. Cinnamon is another that might be good here. Can't go wrong with black pepper.

But really, this is a dish that could go nicely with lots of different spice blends. So don't be afraid to experiment! Try stuff, fail, it's ok, and it's how you get a feel for cooking. If it doesn't come out great, spread some hot sauce on there and it might make it good enough to eat :)

Great comment, thank you! Feels like cooking is a skill a lot like programming where you can be stuck in tutorial hell without ever actually learning anything. I'd like to get out of that and your about just trying things out and seeing how they taste helped me shift my mindset about it

Hey! So this is the specific recipe I used - https://www.wellplated.com/instant-pot-vegetarian-chili/ .

The basic idea is: - Chop up the sweet potatoes, peppers, and onions. This takes me a while lol. - Start with saute mode, heat the oil, fry the onions, then add the garlic, spices, peppers. The saute part overall just takes me around 5-6 mins - Add broth, quinoa, chopped tomatoes, and cook on high pressure for 8 mins (the actual cooking time is longer because it takes some time to reach high pressure, and then to depressurise when done) - I use canned beans, so I just stir them in right here at the end and let them mix for 5-10 mins

(But this is all described in that recipe)

I can basically make 8 good sized portions of this if I fill my Instant Pot, and it's cheap and very healthy. So it's become almost my go-to meal. Oh, and it freezes well too!

Isn’t one of the benefits of presoaking is that it releases certain gases that can wreck havoc on your gastrointestinal system? Does the same thing happen if you use a pressure cooker?

If you're susceptible to that effect then presoaking will help, but susceptibility depends on your individual microbiome. Some vegans use the liquid that chickpeas were cooked in as an egg substitute ("aquafaba"). I personally drain the liquid off after cooking, and don't notice any problems.

one still throws away the soaking liquid when retrieving aquafaba, afaik. It's the cooking water that becomes aquafaba.

"cooking primarily as a means of getting nutrients rather than a hobby" is such a strange opposition to me.

Oligosaccharides rather than gases [1] - but your gut bacteria digest those to produce gases. Personally, i can eat unsoaked beans, but i think that varies from person to person.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12489819/

> It also makes dried legumes far more practical, because you can skip the pre-soak phase.

What do you do about the indigestible sugars found in many beans? Traditionally, pre-soaking reduces the amount of sugars and the corresponding flatulence.

The pressure takes care of it. It basically forces the sugars out into the water like a pre-soak.

Pressure cooking is very common in some countries, but I'm only familiar with the simple mechanical pressure cookers (that work on gas or induction stoves). Can electric pressure cookers do things that a regular one can't?

It's not a matter of what it can do, but of safety/ease of use. I used a traditional pressure cooker for many years, but nowadays I see no reason to go back to babysitting the cooking process. Waiting for pressure to build? Deciding when it's done and lowering the stove to maintenance pressure? Setting an alarm, and then making the pot stop cooking? Nah, just set the timer at the very beginning and go for a walk.

You don't need to "babysit" them. They'll get to pressure and adjust the heat automatically. And then they'll stop at the appropriate time.

Being able to dump ingredients in and set the pressure for 20 minutes, and then go out for 2 hours and come back and eat warm food that hasn't gone bad is really, really nice.

Apart from that - as others pointed out, they're multifunctional. I make yogurt in mine. Also acts as a slow cooker but in my experience not very well.

Many electric pressure cookers double or triple as other similar devices, e.g. rice cookers. Also, you can fry stuff in them before you start the pressure cooking phase (maybe you can do that in other devices, too, I don't know).

In general I would say that the temperature control in an electric pressure cooker is going to be more precise, so you see functions like yogurt making in them, too.

Hey what do you mean you can skip the soaking time of beans? If I buy dried beans (black beans let's day) don't I still need soak them overnight to avoid being super gassy?

Take care with dried legumes, many contain poisonous lectins and they should be soaked overnight first, with the soaking water disposed of and thoroughly rinsed before cooking


Phytohaemagglutinin is destroyed by sufficient heating. It is a serious danger with slow cookers, but not with pressure cookers. The FDA publishes a book on food safety:


"PHA is destroyed by adequate cooking. Some variation in toxin stability has been found at different temperatures. However, Bender and Readi found that boiling the beans for 10 minutes (100°C) completely destroyed the toxin. Consumers should boil the beans for at least 30 minutes to ensure that the product reaches sufficient temperature, for a sufficient amount of time, to completely destroy the toxin."

It's destroyed by high temperatures, like you find in a pressure cooker. Slow cookers are a danger but pressure cookers aren't.

> and you can't make crispy foods

Probably for the better, since baking/frying to crispiness is usually tied to "advanced glycation endproducts".


I came of age before blogs and frankly, don't see any blog posts that could be life changing for an older person, so I'll add a life changing book and song.

The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler, the sequel to Future Shock. I was a nuclear trained engineer in the Navy. This book convinced me not to pursue a career in nuclear power after the Navy, which was the standard career path for guys like me, because it was "Second Wave." The Third Wave was information technology, which I pursued despite having no training in it.

At the height of my success, "The Arrangement" by Joni Mitchell made me realize that money hadn't made me happy and pursuing more was not something I wanted to do.

    You could have been more
    Than a name on the door
    On the thirty-third floor in the air
    More than a credit card
    Swimming pool in the backyard
    While you still have the time
    You could get away and find
    A better life, you know the grind is so ungrateful
    Racing cars, whiskey bars
    No one cares who you really are

> I came of age before blogs and frankly, don't see any blog posts that could be life changing for an older person, so I'll add a life changing book and song.

E. B. White wrote of the essay and the essayist - and I think it goes a long way towards arguing (unintended perhaps) that a good blog post is a good essay (and vice versa) - at least that was my thoughts when I first read it:

> The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each new excursion of the essayist, each new “attempt,” differs from the last and takes him into new country. This delights him. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.

> There are as many kinds of essays as there are human attitudes or poses, as many essay flavors as there are Howard Johnson ice creams. The essayist arises in the morning and, if he has work to do, selects his garb from an unusually extensive wardrobe: he can pull on any sort of shirt, be any sort of person, according to his mood or his subject matter—philosopher, scold, jester, raconteur, confidant, pundit, devil’s advocate, enthusiast. (...)

> There is one thing the essayist cannot do, though—he cannot indulge himself in deceit or in concealment, for he will be found out in no time.

Your comment challenged me to try to find a blog that appeals to a spiritually minded older person and offer some new perspectives. I came up with this:


I like the idea of making a life-changing decision based on a fundamental revelation about life, and catching that "Third Wave" would certainly have been good in the general case, particular regrets about how the details played out in your situation nonwithstanding!?

None, both the decisions I made from the book and song turned out to be the best.

How to Start a Startup by Paul Graham: http://www.paulgraham.com/start.html

Specifically this line "So if you want to invest two years in something that will help you succeed in business, the evidence suggests you'd do better to learn how to hack than get an MBA."

I spent 5 years building a good business school resume and this post encouraged me to try out programming instead. The flexibility of a programming job let me escape the NYC / San Fran scene and start living abroad. Having way more fun living in different countries around the world now.

those essays were really something. still grateful he wrote those.

This still haunts me https://www.nashvail.me/blog/stop-learning.

You got to build stuff too, not just learn. Still, you also have to figure out if you're a builder or a "learner".

I like to figure stuff out, once I know the solution, my interest is minimal.

> You can be in the back seat and travel to a place a hundred times. But until you take the driver's seat you'll never know the way.

I know this phenomenon well. In fact, when we moved into our new house which was an easy drive from where we used to live, I drove here half a dozen times using the GPS and still had no idea where I was going until I forced myself to do the trip without turning the GPS on.

It's really weird, but you're right, I noticed the same thing.

Anymore I try to avoid using GPS anywhere in my city, and it's both taught me a lot and also 'explore' a lot. My wife always asks if I'm afraid of getting lost, but I always tell her 'ah, all roads connect somewhere', which makes me feel better at least. I can only think of a couple times I truly felt turned around enough to pull out GPS.

Keeping north up on your GPS also helps a lot. At least you get a better sense of where you're heading.

I cannot get over the irony that next to that article he has an ad for "Take my Git course on Skillshare".

I'm really bad at closing old browser tabs, but Firefox was getting sluggish, so it was time. I started bookmarking interesting article, then realized something: I had significantly more things to read than things to do. What's the point of all this reading if I'm not going to put it to use?

I took "looping" and "incapacity" to mean not taking a leap. Growth usually happens outside your comfort zone. Remove the safety net and ask, 'what's the worst that could happen?'

Yeah, "incapacity" is the wrong term, since more learning should never decrease your capacity to do something.

He's against the overlearning of a skill in a classroom, especially since you won't really learn how to do most things until you close the books and just go do it.

I've noticed I can just hack out pretty complex stuff if I stick to APIs and languages I already know, often this is even faster than using other people's libraries for it.

This is good. It made me think at the "tutorial hell" concept.

This is Insane !!


I remember reading this first time in early twenties - it was mindblowing. After several years I can say that many things I’ve expierenced, noticed and learned are mentioned somewhere along these lines.

‚One must permit his people the freedom to seek added work and greater responsibility. In my organization, there are no formal job descriptions or organizational charts. Responsibilities are defined in a general way, so that people are not circumscribed. All are permitted to do as they think best and to go to anyone and anywhere for help. Each person then is limited only by his own ability.’

This is my absolute favorite essay of all time. I actually have it set to my default tab whenever I open a web browser, because I try to make sure I read it as often as I can.

> To complaints of a job poorly done, one often hears the excuse, “I am not responsible.” I believe that is literally correct. The man who takes such a stand in fact is not responsible; he is irresponsible. While he may not be legally liable, or the work may not have been specifically assigned to him, no one involved in a job can divest himself of responsibility for its successful completion.

Edited, thanks

> Unless the individual truly responsible can be identified when something goes wrong, no one has really been responsible. With the advent of modern management theories it is becoming common for organizations to deal with problems in a collective manner, by dividing programs into subprograms, with no one left responsible for the entire effort.

I was quite literally thinking about this exact problem at my organization last week. This quote is older than I am.

I don't know if they changed my life, but they did literally made a big impact in how I value myself for sure. That led to 3x salary raise over time and how I interact with my day job. Both from patio11

* How to negotiate salary : https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

* Don't call yourself a programmer : https://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-pr...

That salary one is great, I’ve used similar strategies to help people negotiate pretty large bumps when interviewing. It’s funny to see the sophistication of the recruiter on the other side (while they’re pretending not to be).

One social thing I learned though is that some people are weird about it - not the recruiters but the friends you’re trying to help negotiate. They’re afraid to do it and instead rationalize how it won’t work and then get angry if you try to persuade them that it’s possible.

That is why I like those articles, they allow me to pass the links without trying to convince people. Folks tend to find it easier to borrow wisdom from people further from their network.

During my last round of interviews, I chose to spew out salary numbers. This is because I exclusively interviewed with recruiters who reached out on LinkedIn (sometimes you have to know your limits on how much effort you're willing to put in while employed).

I found a recruiter who was reasonably decent (placed a friend of mine). I asked what top-of-band for my YOE in my COL seemed to be, and he said $130k-$140k. I then gave $150k as my requirement to all future companies. Too many were saying yes, so I upped it to $170k, then $190k, then at $200k I only got one bite. (Caveat: of course I asked for numbers from them first - when the recruiter was unwilling, depending on my mood I would say I wasn't willing to proceed further without a comp range, or I would give out my desired number and see what they said.)

I might have missed out on companies willing to offer $200k while earlier in this process, but about half of the recruiters reaching out were positions offering $100k, and I was unwilling to waste that much time in interviews for jobs I didn't want.

In case anyone wants to know how it ended, I told my current company (paying $120k) that I was in final interview rounds for $200k and I wanted to quit to focus on studying for interviews. They offered me $200k to stay and I accepted.

TL;DR: Interviews take a long time. If you're some rando on LinkedIn and they're some random company you've never heard of, it's not worth assuming they'll be able to pay you enough and going through the process.

This is the pair of articles I thought of while reading the title. It's excellent advice.

Maybe not a life-changing thing but something that truly unlocked a lot of things: https://milan.cvitkovic.net/writing/things_youre_allowed_to_...

HN discussion about it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25513713

Aw I'm so glad!

This is just a different way of saying There are no rules.

I like re-reading this once every few months, and taking stock of how little I've internalised it:


You might want to rethink aligning your life to a Cracked listicle, in particular this one. For example:

> For instance, some people want to respond to that speech with Tyler Durden's line from Fight Club: "You are not your job." But, well, actually, you totally are.

Well, actually, you totally aren't. The next part is even worse and downright dehumanizing:

> you are nothing more than the sum total of your useful skills [...] Your "job" -- the useful thing you do for other people -- is all you are.

It's not a good idea to view yourself as purely a means to an end for other people. I'm strongly in favor of being a useful and productive part of society, but not to the point where nothing remains of your person except for an exploitable resource for others.

Having just read it for the first time, I'd characterize that article as the metaphorical slap to bring someone to their senses. It is not enough on its own to build a philosophy on, and it isn't necessarily representative of all of life, but that article is a slap a good number of people need.

But then there's also people for whom it will be the worst thing ever, who have already completely organized their lives around pleasing others and satisfying the needs of others while not thinking about the fact they have their own needs, and need in some sense the complete opposite slap.

But I'm not surprised there's some people who found the article to be food for some fairly big thoughts.

Thanks, that's an insightful take on it. You bring up a good point, which is that reading this article can be healthy for some people, and unhealthy for others.

I don't think there's a solution for this, because any kind of disclaimer would dilute its message for those that need to hear it, and do nothing for those that shouldn't hear it. And what would such a disclaimer even look like? "Disregard this article if you're not an entitled, selfish man-child"?

>Feel free to stop reading this if your career is going great, you're thrilled with your life, and you're happy with your relationships. Enjoy the rest of your day friend, this article is not for you.

The disclaimer is woven neatly in the opening paragraph, above the delightful picture of Lenny and his large scarf.

I generally agree and don't know how well this holds up, but reading this article when I was around 20 really broke me out of some entitlement and helped me start working on myself. I think it made me view things less selfishly and think about other people's perspectives more. So I do think it works for the question asked here

The article is absolutely perfect for its audience, which is the smirking, early-20s Internet user of 10 years ago that read Cracked, or Maddox and spent their time on Digg and Reddit. You know the type.

I remember the impact it had when it came out. It was the reality check that a lot of people in that age range needed, especially new college graduates. This was the era of the "jobless recovery" of post-2008, when S&P500 was going up but underemployment was very high. You have to learn to drop a lot of ego when your fancy degree has you working at the same Starbucks as a kid straight out of high school.

Out of every post here so far, this is by far the best. It also aged like fine wine. Probably more poignant now than ever. I totally see this as a good occasional slap in the face every few months to re-analysis yourself.

I know the article is intentionally provocative and over the top to provoke a reaction... whether it's a healthy reflection on your attitude to success or crippling self-loathing probably depends on the reader.

Also, there are undeniably some hard truths hidden in there. However, my experience in almost 20 years in the tech/software/product industry often paints a different picture. Yes, our brains keep us from changing and evolving and yes, obviously you need skills to be successful in life and your career. But in my industry in particular, hard and soft skills are not the dominant factor that keeps individuals from succeeding or progressing. I'm lucky enough to work with an abundance of talent and skill, and yet, one of the major factors of dissatisfaction is lack of "progression". One of the main factors is self-confidence and in the more severe cases even mental health issues. Some of the most skilled and knowledgeable engineers I worked with struggled to realise their potential because of it. If the leaders in your organisation think they can just shout at them to "learn self-confidence as a skill" and get over it you're going to have a bad time. It will attract a certain type and employee that thrives in that environment and disengage everyone else. Wasting talent, wasting skills and ultimately a lot of money. Creating an environment and learning how to tease the potential out of skilled and talented individuals is not a "hippie/hipster" thing to do, it is good for business.

I wish I could find an archive of Jason Pargin's old writings back from when he ran PointlessWasteOfTime.com under the David Wong handle. The Monkeysphere was a brilliant essay.


Maybe the Glengarry Glen Ross "closing" scene would have a positive impact on me and get me fired up if the profession was something in tech, at a company whose mission I cared about. Otherwise, as the article mentions, I do indeed just think Alec Baldwin's character is a borderline sociopathic asshole.

I just rewatched that scene - he isn't saying anything meaningful. He's being rude, telling people how much money he makes and telling them to "just close".

He’s telling them the harsh truths of how the world works. He’s flaunting what they want in front of them and then showing them what they have to do in order to have it.

It’s as controversial as the cracked piece in itself. And for some people in my circle - it’s a wake up call.

You can’t expect to just get what he has by drifting through life aimlessly. You have to do what it takes. It’s a message to the kids who were told as children that they were perfect just the way they are and that they could do anything they wanted (but never put in any effort towards it). It’s a message to the children raised by shitty parents who didn’t instill grit and perseverance and tenacity into their kids that they need to get it together if they want what others have. That it takes work and that you don’t get things handed to you like your parents handed things to you all the time as a kid.

Those salesmen never stood a chance -- that's the point. All the grit and perseverance in the world can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. They were selling shitty real estate, hoping to find someone clueless or out to lunch enough to buy swampland in Florida or whatever it was. Alec Baldwin's character was there as much to prevent the salespeople from catching on to the scam as to motivate them by making sure they felt that it was their own fault if they couldn't move the bad product. "The fuckin' leads are weak? YOU'RE weak."

I've noticed that multi-level marketing companies use "love bombing" tactics with new members, showering them with praise and good vibes and assuring them that it is easy to make money using their system. Once you're in, however, the "sales experts" quickly turn into the Alec Baldwin character, pressuring, mocking, and grilling you to sell more in an environment where it's near impossible to sell anything.

I don't think that he's showing them what they have to do. Unless acting like he does in the scene is what they're supposed to be doing as salesmen? I don't know too much about sales so if the lesson was the all that the other salesmen need to be douchebags with their clients just like Baldwin's character was with them, then that lesson has gone completely over my head.

To me it looked like he's shaking them up a little. But the motivation from being shaken up doesn't last long especially if it isn't supplemented by actual skills. Let's say that one of these salesmen is really pumped up after this meeting - what happens the next time they're on a call with a client who isn't interested? What does that salesman know now that they didn't know pre-Baldwin-speech? What can they do differenty? Nothing as far as I can tell. And if the argument is that they all have the skills and it's all about the motivation, then that sounds very much like something from the soft generation that you're describing in your comment.

> I don't think that he's showing them what they have to do. Unless acting like he does in the scene is what they're supposed to be doing as salesmen?

Limitation of the format of the media and that it's for entertainment. Do you really expect a dry presentation about sales tactics in a play/movie???

It's a wake up call speech. It's a speech that you need to either shape up or get out - and to stop expecting handouts and to stop acting entitled. And the thing about his speech is that he's actually empathetic to people - he isn't saying you're worthless as a human being, he's saying you're not fit for the job and you need to be fit for the job if you want to keep it. "Good father? Fuck you - go home and play with your kids." It's a retaliation against the "but I'm a good/nice/whatever person" mentality of entitlement. If you want to work here - you need to close. That's the whole point - that our environment needs people with skills and people who can actually use those skills in a useful matter. You can't do it? Fine - you're not a worthless person but you don't deserve the job just out of birthright.

I'd watch the full thing to the end - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrhSLf0I-HM In no way is he entrapping them or anything - he says over and over again... "Don't like it? Leave." He's tell them over and over - do the job or leave. Stop expecting a handout - stop being entitled - do the job we hired you for.

This is the winner!

I would say "career changing" more than "life changing", but I just wrote a post that shows the longevity of Joel Spolsky's writing. People are still confused today about things he explained well 15-20 years ago:


I don't think I've ever read a single life-changing blog post, but an entire blog over years and books can definitely be life changing.

I'd say that life-changing stuff has to be contrarian, and Taleb and PG are pretty contrarian. This also means they can be wrong, repetitive, and piss a lot of people off. You can criticize individual posts or passages easily; it's harder to do that of their entire career.

I'd also be careful to label them "not contrarian" -- contrarians can seem less so once people start agreeing with and imitating them, specifically as a result of the writing :)

Merlin Mann - "Better"


Written in 2008, but still amazingly relevant today. The opening lines are eerily prescient about our current "everyone needs to have a take on everything" culture.

"Politics, celebrity gossip, business headlines, tech punditry, odd news, and user-generated content.

These are the chew toys that have made me sad and tired and cynical.

Each, in its own way, contributes to the imperative that we constantly expand our portfolio of shallow but strongly-held opinions about nearly everything. Then we’re supposed to post something about it. Somewhere."

I love the throw away, first draft, not edited, conversational nature of HN. I love hearing and engaging with people from different places and backgrounds on here, but I guess this place is more like a message board/chat room than what the author is describing

This early retirement post got me to save a LOT more money for my future, while friends were out vacationing or even worse, buying very expensive gizmos. I have one friend who lives in a crappy apartment absolutely filled with "top of the line" gizmos, that amount of money could've had him retiring one year earlier.


>while friends were out vacationing or even worse, buying very expensive gizmos

What's wrong with either of these things if they give you pleasure?

>I have one friend who lives in a crappy apartment

Sounds like they have their priorities, and you have yours.

>that amount of money could've had him retiring one year earlier.

Big deal. Do what you enjoy. The entire FIRE movement of people who just can't wait to retire (and most likely continue pinching pennies) confuses me. Enjoy your life, you never know when it ends.

Still, there is more to it. Don't wait to retire to do what makes you happy.

I surely do not :) my job is very interesting, yeah it can suck debugging or going through bureaucracy and documents. However, I get to WFH, do chores as my break time, then at 4 or 5 I say Good Day and I use my evening for family, friends, and hobby. Happy life so far!

I went hard on this for 8 or 9 years for the start of my career. Now with a kid and a house FIRE is on the back burner, but I still saved a ton of money. If I were to never save another cent and just rely on growth on what I have, I'd still have a secure "normal" retirement fund. +1 for the money mustaches.


Aphantasia: How it feels to be blind in your mind

By Blake Ross


Before reading this post I had no idea I had aphantasia and thought everyone else was the same as me, unable to see anything when they closed their eyes. This helped me understand myself and my relationships so much better than ever before. Thanks Blake!

What's even crazier is that not everyone has an internal monologue: https://www.insidemymind.me/blog/brain-stuff/today-i-learned...

If aphantasia is "internally blind", this one is "internally mute and deaf".

I wonder if anyone in the world has both conditions. That would be interesting to understand how they think.

I participated in the Prosopagnosia study at Imperial a few years ago. I also don't hear any internal monologue; When I think, I think in words, and it is very similar to reading.

I think I can imagine sounds in my head, but it is a little like singing, or humming a tune without making noise. I believe I have the cadence and rhythm of sounds, but it's not really easy to get words that way.

I can also recognise some specific images I have seen previously, but I definitely do not see them and cannot conjure up any imagery of any kind.

You might be amused to know that until I joined that study I had no idea that you were thinking any differently than I was, and since learning you-all are freaks, I have wondered if the reason you guys get distracted so easily is that you're watching a movie out of the corner of your eye, or maybe the reason you think code is unreadable is that you need to sound out your program in order to read it.

I think something's amiss here.

>I participated in the Prosopagnosia study at Imperial a few years ago. I also don't hear any internal monologue; When I think, I think in words, and it is very similar to reading.

Isn't this exactly what an internal monologue is? Lack of internal monologue would be someone who thinks only abstractly or visually, without any words.

>I think I can imagine sounds in my head, but it is a little like singing, or humming a tune without making noise. I believe I have the cadence and rhythm of sounds, but it's not really easy to get words that way.

Yes, isn't this what pretty much everyone experiences, unless they have one of these listed disorders? If you can think in words, watch a TV show and later picture what the characters look like, and listen to a song and have it get "stuck in your head", then I think you have an internal monologue and don't have aphantasia.

> Isn't this exactly what an internal monologue is? Lack of internal monologue would be someone who thinks only abstractly or visually, without any words.

I don't know. It's like reading though. I definitely don't hear a voice (mine or anyone else's).

> If you can think in words, watch a TV show and later picture what the characters look like, and listen to a song and have it get "stuck in your head", then I think you have an internal monologue and don't have aphantasia.

Nope. I can't picture what the characters look like. I can't get a song stuck in my head either.

You did say this, though:

>I think I can imagine sounds in my head, but it is a little like singing, or humming a tune without making noise.

This seems like how I and I assume most people experience the phenomenon of recalling or thinking about sound. It's just more or less vivid and detailed for different people.

Do you listen to music often? If so, you've never listened to a song and later had some sort of experience where something about that song stayed remnant in your mind?

If you try to imagine the loud alarm of an alarm clock, do you feel like you're experiencing something? By "experiencing", I mean you aren't just like "I can't even say any part of what I'm doing is imagining the sound of an alarm", but are in some way perceiving some kind of representation of some recollection of hearing an alarm clock's alarm.

Also, what happens in your mind when you hum something? To me, humming is the process of transforming that rough, vague, general "phantasic" representation of pitch/amplitude/time into rough, vague, general vocal cord movements. I could be very wrong, but I suspect that if someone is capable of humming anything with even the tiniest minuscule of correlation with the original song, then they don't have aphantasia (with respect to sound).

My speculative, uninformed hypothesis is that actual aphantasia is very rare and that sometimes there's misunderstanding of what it means, combined with the fact that some people have less vivid imaginations and mental representations than others.

Many people may have "weak phantasia", e.g. they may not internally imagine a 1-to-1 visual representation of what they saw on a walk on the previous day, or may not recreate every texture and pitch in a song they heard, but they can imagine some rough approximation of them. I think almost no one can construct these perfect mental recreations; maybe von Neumann and a tiny number of others.

For most people, I'd guess it's probably like 0.1 - 10%. But I think 0% is rare. And during dreaming, I imagine for most people it may increase to like 10 - 40%.

The weaker it is, I think the less one may feel attached to a term like "seeing" or "hearing". But I think no one is ever actually "seeing" or "hearing". It's just a mental representation which no term can fully describe. Kind of like how you can't exactly put a scientific, objective perceptual term to the experience of feeling love. It's just an internal, subjective experience within your mind. Something a little bit more like "reading" rather than "hearing", as you say.

And for internal monologue: if I ask you to "think" the phrase "I am going to go to the store", were you able to "think it"? If so, then I think you probably have internal monologue, or at least the capacity for internal monologue. It may not manifest very often, and you may "experience" it less "potently" than some other people, but I think you have it.

The suspected misunderstanding with internal monologue is that I think some people "spend more time with" their internal monologue than others. Like, a catastrophizer might regularly think the words "oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck what do I do", while for someone else their mind may be fairly "blank" most of the time, especially if they're distracted with something.

For people who experience it more frequently, some percentage of it may manifest and "bleed over" into spoken utterances, like the catastrophizer may sometimes mumble "oh fuck", perhaps without even realizing it. In my opinion, humming is often this same sort of "bleeding over" of the internal into the external, but with music instead of monologue.

Based on what you've said so far, I think you potentially might have visual aphantasia, but I think you likely don't have aural aphantasia or lack of internal monologue. And I think it's possible you also may not have visual aphantasia; there still might be a disconnect between what people mean by "visual imagination" and what you think they mean.

> If so, you've never listened to a song and later had some sort of experience where something about that song stayed remnant in your mind?

With listening? Never. I can remember the lyrics of songs, and I can remember (sometimes) the progression of notes, but no: nothing I would refer to as an “experience”. They might as well be written down.

> you try to imagine the loud alarm of an alarm clock, do you feel like you're experiencing something?

No. I know what an alarm clock is and I know they can go “ding ding ding ding ding” - but these things are just the same words I give to you. Again: I certainly can’t experience an alarm clock in my head (or experience being in the same room as an alarm clock or anything like that)

> Also, what happens in your mind when you hum something?

If I hum and then stop, I have a sensation of the vibration and of the way my breathing changes. I can then recall (in some way) those vibrations and then reintroduce heavier breath so we hear sound again.

Is this not like how it is for you? Do you remember “the sound” of your own hum and try to reproduce it?

> Based on what you've said so far, I think you potentially might have visual aphantasia

If you are a researcher working in this space, you can send me an email from an edu address and I’ll connect you with the people who ran tests on me in London.

If not, could you explain why you’re giving your opinion?

>If not, could you explain why you’re giving your opinion?

I'm not a researcher or a scientist of any kind. I know very little about aphantasia, and don't experience it myself or know anyone who does (besides one podcaster I listen to). I simply suspect that some percentage of people who report aphantasia may not actually have it, based on dozens of peoples' self-reports that I've read before. Subjective experiences are complicated. I could certainly be completely wrong both in general and in this case, though.

I based most of my reply on the fact that you said:

>I think I can imagine sounds in my head, but it is a little like singing, or humming a tune without making noise.

To me, this is the experience of aural "phantasia". This is what happens when I imagine sounds in my head. That's why I read your post with a sense of dissonance. It made me want to try to understand how you can have this kind of "humming a tune without making noise" sound in your head yet also have aural aphantasia.

Are you able to hum a song you've heard before? If so, I think that could potentially require a kind of ability to represent the song in your mind, though I could be wrong about that.

Are you able to think about a note with some pitch frequency and then about a note with a higher pitch frequency right afterwards? If not, what is the experience of humming like for you? If so, then what's happening when you're thinking about these pitches?

The fact that you've never had anything like a song getting stuck in your head (e.g. hearing a song you like and humming or thinking about it a later time) would make me think there likely is something atypical about your experience, at the least, though.

Additionally, you said:

>I don't know. It's like reading though. I definitely don't hear a voice (mine or anyone else's).

This is also my own perception of what internal monologue is like for me. Although this is potentially a separate phenomenon from aphantasia, to me it seemed like you were saying you didn't have an internal monologue when I thought maybe you did, which, if true, made me think there was possibly an increased chance you don't have aphantasia if you think you do.

Obviously you know your own experience better than anyone else does or could, but there's a lot of ambiguity and ineffability around the meanings of all of these terms; a little bit like (though not as extreme as) trying to describe the experience of perceiving a particular color.

I'm also doing all this in part so I can better understand the phenomenon and educate myself.

I initially was considering adding the "I think you likely don't have aural aphantasia" part but decided to leave it out, since it's extremely presumptive, but the imagining sounds/humming thing and the capability of humming something you've heard before (if I understand correctly) seemed so contradictory with what I personally understand aphantasia to be that I later went back and edited it in. If not for that part I probably wouldn't have replied and would've just silently acknowledged your aphantasia.

> Are you able to hum a song you've heard before? If so, I think that could potentially require a kind of ability to represent the song in your mind

If I pay attention I can tell that a sound is higher or lower than another. I can also count. It often requires a lot of concentration (and many repeats) to hum a song I have heard.

> Are you able to think about a note with some pitch frequency and then about a note with a higher pitch frequency right afterwards?

Yes. I can also tell the names of tones (as in keys on a piano) in some cases, but it requires a lot of focus to do this quickly, and the tones usually have to be pretty simplistic or extremely rhythmic.

> If so, then what's happening when you're thinking about these pitches?

What do you mean? If you have ever played SIMON you have to memorise a sequence of red blue yellow and green lights. The repetition starts slowly and gets faster. Then it can become so fast it is overwhelming. Do you memorize the colours or the names of the colours? If you haven’t played it maybe you could look at a YouTube video and get the idea.

> it seemed like you were saying you didn't have an internal monologue

I said I can’t hear one.

> I simply suspect that some percentage of people who report aphantasia may not actually have it, based on dozens of peoples' self-reports that I've read before.

That’s not what I asked. I asked you why you gave your opinion, not why you have an opinion.

I have noticed people do this quite often, and I do not really know why. I wonder if you can sufficiently self-reflect to explain your thinking to me.

I think their argument may stem from the fact that they can’t remove themselves from their own frame of reference enough to understand yours. In their head, to have this abnormal diagnosis, you must either be exactly like their perspective of someone with aphantasia, or be someone who just doesn’t understand that your experience is just like theirs.

The problem with having a diagnosis like this is that a lot of people won’t understand what it’s like to not have the characteristics we take for granted to the point that it seems unreal. To avoid accepting that the scale of people who have experiences that they’ll never be able to understand is bigger than they imagine (and avoid cognitive dissonance), they must invalidate your experience.

This one I’ve always been extremely skeptical of. I suspect it’s more likely they’re lacking introspection to such an extent that they’re not even aware of it.

It just seems highly unlikely that a non brain damaged human sharing the same evolutionary history and ability to use language would not have one, yet be able to speak and converse normally. Their arguments in support of it always seemed weak to me.

It’s in those class of things where people like to be the person that has it (and it’s hard to test or verify)

When I read, I hear my voice. That’s the only time I ever hear a voice in my head. When I think of problems and solutions, I build structures in my mind and navigate those structures, examine them, and solve them. Rubik’s cubes are ridiculously easy.

There’s plenty of introspection, but if anything, it’s hardest to translate some solutions to English. Often, I can’t tell you why “it’s the right answer” other than “the whole structure would collapse” which makes no sense to other people. I used to get points docked on math papers because I couldn’t show my work.

I find software engineering fantastic, because everyone can agree they see the same structure, rendered as code on a screen. We can agree why something is right or wrong or YAGNI. I love working remote because I have more time to compose thoughtful answers to describe/translate what I mean.

Sometimes I need to talk through a problem out loud because the problem and solution exist in the English language (people problems) which is another boon to remote work. So, I talk out loud to myself, quite a bit more than other people do. I have hours of recordings because people look at you weird walking down the street if you’re not holding a phone but speaking out loud.

I can spot a bug a mile away in code, because the code literally becomes a structure in my mind. Bugs stick out as weak points or unstable parts of the structure.

I’m just rambling a bit as I fall asleep, but maybe you won’t be so skeptical now.

It's possible I'm brain damaged, though I've never been diagnosed as such. And of course it's possible I'm lacking introspection. I've spent years honing introspective skills via meditation, but of course if I have blind spots, I wouldn't know about them.

My conscious lived is experience has always been one in which I have no inner voice. No words, in fact. It's totally silent in my head. (It's not still. I have racing thoughts. But they're non-verbal. They seem to be in some sort of "mentalese.") I neither see words nor hear them. And it's impossible for me to imagine what my voice sounds like unless I actually hear myself speak.

I also can't imagine what my wife or friends sound like. My father died a few years ago, and I now can't imagine his voice. I never could unless I heard it. And now that's impossible.

While I know the ideas I want to express, I have no clue what words I'll use to express them until I hear them come out of my mouth or see them on a page or screen. When I type, it seems like my fingers are making up the words. Obviously, that's not what's happening, but I have no sense at all that my mind chose the words.

I also have never felt authorship of anything I've written, even though I'm a published author. I have no sense at all that I've written this paragraph. It's my ideas--it's what I wanted to say--but it's as if someone else chose the words.

I suspect that for everyone, there's a process that goes something like this: mentalese --> coming up with words --> expressing words via speech or writing.

Some folks have no conscious access to the first step. For them, it's entirely unconscious. (mentalese) --> coming up with words --> speaking or writing.

In my case, for some reason I seem to have no conscious access to the choosing-words part. It must happen, of course, but it seems to be hidden from my conscious mind: mentalese --> (coming up with words) --> speaking or writing.

Until fairly recently I thought everyone was like me. When people talked about seeing or hearing words in their heads (or their "inner voice"), I thought they meant it metaphorically. It's still amazing to me that people can imagine or "hear" voices in their heads. So I have the same impulse as you, except in reverse: Come on! An inner voice? I'm skeptical. (Intellectually, I'm not, anymore. But I still feel the pang of skepticism, because it's so alien to me.)

I have no internal monologue. No voice in my head and also no words. I can't even imagine what my voice sounds like (or my wife's voice) unless I hear it. And I also have aphantasia. It's totally silent and totally dark in my head. (And when I'm typing this, I know the ideas I want to communicate, but I have no idea what words I'll use until I see them on the screen.)

As far as I can tell, I think in abstract ideas.

> I wonder if anyone in the world has both conditions. That would be interesting to understand how they think.

I think maybe I do? I’ve know about the aphantasia and it wasn’t surprising to me because I always felt like I was missing something when people used phrases like “picture $thing in your mind” but now you’re telling me everyone is talking to themselves in their heads, too? It’s actually so hard for me to wrap my head around I think I must be misunderstanding...

I think you and some others probably are misunderstanding. It's the idea that sometimes when you think, you "think with words". It's the presence or employment of words or language anywhere in your thinking.

Not "hearing" the words or necessarily "talking to yourself" or hearing someone talk to you. I think many people do mentally talk to themselves, but I think that's a sufficient condition to have an internal monologue rather than a necessary condition.

People who don't have it would 100% of the time only ever think about things in terms of visual imagery, symbols, or something else abstract. I believe it's quite rare.

I think I have close to opposite of not having an internal monologue, it is hard for me to turn my internal monologue into an external one. Talking takes a lot of effort and I get tired of doing it after a short while. I've conditioned myself to be able to do it well now, and I can be very articulate, but my wife and son, for instance, can just keep talking and talking and talking. I find it so bizarre.

But I can talk with myself internally for hours on end.

This blew my mind when I first discovered this.

I wonder if there is a correlation between having an internal monologue and higher levels of social inhibition.

I still can’t quite believe there are people who can see clear images in their minds. Maybe it’s more a matter of how you report your experience?

I’m very conscious of how poor my mental images are, but maybe with a little less introspection I would also say I have great mental imagery.

I do think variances in reporting are some of it. I have some visualization skills and wouldn't claim to be "aphantasic", but on the flip side, there is an enormous dividing line between real-world images and these imagined images. While awake I would never confuse the two.

I also suspect a lot of people are massively overreporting the quality of their images. It's very easy to imagine something and think you understand it, until asked to produce something based on it. This isn't just limited to mental images, it's the source of the "why don't you 'just'..." questions, and comes up all the time in building, engineering, artistic endeavors, etc. Your brain is easily convinced it has a thought with more detail than it actually has. I really only trust people who have taken a lot of time to train the relevant system if they claim they have these things. For instance, I really can design some somewhat non-trivial programs in my head... but I've been doing this for ~25 years, and only recently would I say I'm getting to the point where these designs are sometimes good enough that they're not taking serious body blows betwixt conceptualization and realization.

Yeah, I have asked people “ can you visualize Obama’s face on this piece of paper?” They say “oh, yes-perfectly! -it’s like I’m looking at a photograph” “Could you trace it and come away with a drawing that would compare well with a traced photo?” They can’t, and I think they are over-reporting the fidelity of their visualizations.

I can't play the piano, but I can mentally play back Flight of the Bumblebee in my head. The skill to produce and the skill to recall are different.

You could (or at least I could with little musical training) fumble around finding the right notes, and with enough time, eventually transcribe the song to sheet music though. mostly accurately.

just because you have no skill in shading and drawing lines doesnt mean that you shouldn't be able to replicate the correct proportions and details in the features of someones face.

Well, the image moves when you try to trace it, because your eyes are jumping around. Then, when you've got a wrong line, your brain tries to fit the imagined image to the wrong line by skewing it, which it does in several different ways once you've got enough wrong lines, so the wrong lines multiply.

A skilled artist can work around this, by drawing the right lines (and erasing / ignoring the wrong lines).

I agree that some people might under/over-estimate their abilities.

However, I am not sure if drawing is the right way to test it. I can visualise a straight line or a perfect circle, but I wouldn't be able to draw them perfectly.

Visualization is a bit confusing in the sense that I can perfectly "see" someone's image in my mind or on the piece of paper, but I cannot draw it that well. It is like a "floating image"? that gives me the person's face in my head, but I if I sit down and try to describe it with minor details or draw it, I cannot.

I couldn't do that if my eyes were open and Obama was in the room.

Yes, this. I honestly don't know if I see things vividly or not well at all because there is no baseline for comparison, such as a traditional vision and color test.

What's more convincing to me than self report of image quality is self report of imagery use. Whether it should be described as aphantasia I don't know, but I never think in a visuospatial way unless I consciously stop and try because the problem really requires it (and even then I feel I'm pretty bad). On the other hand I have friends that describe their ideas in such a visual way almost instantly, and report having imagery pop into their heads naturally.

To me it seems really obvious that relative to my internal monologue, my imagery is much weaker and quantifiably less frequent. So I think at least people that report having imagery much stronger than internal monologue likely have something different going on for real, not just with reporting.

I'm pretty sure it's just in how people report it. I was always quite good at geometry puzzles because I could picture the shapes moving in my head. Does that mean I can see images in my mind or not? It's nothing like seeing with my eyes, but I can definitely "see" it in my mind.

I suspect that people that play chess without looking at a board must have a somewhat clear picture of the pieces in their mind.

I wonder if those with aphantasia tend to hate reading novels. For me, once I get into a book I basically "see" it playing out in my head and I won't even notice that I'm reading words.

I could totally understand how it would be bland if you were just reading a description and nothing was coming to you.

I guess I have this thing, I had never heard of it before but I have it based on Wikipedia's description, I also have very few memories of my life, which can be disturbing, maybe this is why.

For the record I love novels, inc fantasy fiction and descriptive sci-fi without having a minds eye to bring it into.

e.g. Big fan of starship troopers (the book) which is completely set in an invented universe none of which I have visualized. I saw the film and I can't remember its visual interpretation. (I do remember it being lame compared to the book)

Even without a minds eye I sometimes find some directors visual interpretation jarring.

How do you visualizers get on with the colour of magic? Do you have to see everything?

On the plus side I support two concurrent internal monologues or one that goes double speed & I can go full-duplex.

Let's say somebody shows you a picture of a house for a couple of minutes and then takes it away, is there no way for you to recollect and reproduce anything that was on that picture (visually)?

not the OP but similar to him. I can fleetingly see details individually in my mind, i struggle to really see the whole house. i can see (fleetingly) in my mind how the shutters are built, their material, what color they are, how they fold over the window. and so on for each feature of the house.

reading fiction and fantasy books are also sort of boring for me because i have no mental image of the characters or their settings or faces or anything like that. like if it's describing a blacksmith's forge, sure i know that has a forge and anvil and tools and quenching bucket. but there's not really a cohesive setting in my head of what it looks like for the story.

i also cant really mentally image the faces of people i know. i can see their features but their face in my mind doesn't really look human. i can't imagine someone's whole body including their face. i have no issue recognizing faces and putting them to names in person though.

i have a notoriously bad memory. i still made good grades in school and can study and retain knowledge and skills. but i forget the vast majority of conversations i've had with people after a couple weeks, and my fiance is constantly telling me things i said where i have no memory of saying it.

Thanks. So if I understand it correct it's not that you're unable to see anything in your mind, but it's hard to get an exact, coherent, picture.

yes, for me anyway. to the point that it's pretty useless

> On the plus side I support two concurrent internal monologues or one that goes double speed & I can go full-duplex

Wow, really? I'd love to hear more about how that works.

I have it and I love reading novels. Like I can't "see" your comment or any other comment but I understand what you are saying. Likewise I can't "see" novels but that doesn't mean I can't understand and find them interesting.

To be clear, I don't "see" comments like this. It's pretty specific to engaging content that is apt to be visualized. i.e. I don't tend to visualize books or passages that aren't as engaging to me.

For sure, I understand. Was more trying to say that it is not necessary to visualize comments to enjoy them. Likewise it is not necessary to visualize a book to enjoy it. "For sale, baby shoes, never worn." I don't see the shoes, and I don't see the advertisement but damn if it doesn't make me feel sad.

I can't quite describe how it works, but I still get something out of a visual description. If the author mentions a small red leather book and then later a large wooden book with a blue ribbon across it I get a different "sense" for lack of a better word. I have seen both things and know what they look like even if I can't form a visual picture in my mind while reading it. To be more precise I haven't actually seen a wooden book with a blue ribbon across it, but I have seen both of those items individually and know how it would look if they were combined. But I don't actually have a picture of it in my mind.

That's very interesting and the term "aphantasia" only got coined in 2015, so it looks like a fresh area of research.

Do you think that there are some advantages to being this way? For example, being able to live more "in the moment"?

I'm aphantasic, and I'd say one advantage is that I'm not bothered by invasive vivid memories or anxiety inducing imagery. Just on a hunch, I think aphantasics are probably less likely to develop PTSD after trauma, as a big component of PTSD appears to be just this kind of pervasive, invasive and hyper-vivid memories. I sometimes feel that I'm missing out on something, but from experiences on psychedelics, which give me closed-eye visuals of geometric shapes and colors which don't go away until the effects pass, I think I prefer the still black void and relative mental silence (apart from the soundless inner monologue) of aphantasia to a 'richer' inner world that I'm not able to shut off. Would be happy to get other aphantasics' (as well as hyperphantasics at the other end of the spectrum) perspective on this

I'm curious what you mean by "soundless inner monologue"? I don't really experience much imagery at all but my inner monologue feels very close to how talking to myself aloud feels, so I wouldn't describe it as soundless. The verbal vividness of my internal monologue is actually how I imagined people with good imagery skills "see".

On the note of advantages, I know I have something weird going on with the back right of my brain specifically (focal slowing on EEG among other things), which I am pretty certain connects to my favoring of verbal over visual thinking. So I guess it depends on the cause of a case of aphantasia, but to me it feels a little like how blind people end up with heightened hearing. I think I've really developed strong verbal skills because of it, and there are definitely advantages to having strong verbal skills.

I recall a professor showing us a study once where students performed better on an exam when they were allowed/encouraged to talk out loud to themselves while they were taking it. He was encouraging us to talk through stuff with ourselves, but at first I found the result weird because I assumed everybody was always talking to themselves in their head. That was the first time it really dawned on me there may be large individual differences in how we experience thoughts.

Late response here, but hoping you might catch it!

I'm also very verbal, as that is the form most of my thinking takes. I do have some very limited visual imagination, but it takes the form of very vague and transparent 'flash' visions, and otherwise it's mostly a kind of spatial sense (I have pretty good spatial orientation, and it often surprises me how some people with vivid visual imaginations can be very easily spatially disoriented).

My inner monologue is running most of the time, and I tend to think in complete sentences, even stopping to rephrase when it doesn't make sense. But it's soundless, as in not being perceived as a sound. I'm a musician and songwriter, so I often sing and make melodies in my head, but these too aren't perceived as sound in any way resembling what I hear with my ears. Hearing your own voice all the time also sounds like an invasive and disturbing experience to me, but I guess everyone is used to their inner world. It seems aphantasia can be uni- or multimodal. I also can't imagine smells or tastes, beyond having a vague idea of whether a combination of flavours will be good. I have heard others describe tasting chocolate in their mouth when imagining it, and that's just not something I've experienced.

So yes, I'm also fascinated by the huge range of inner experiences people have, and how it affects their personality and relationship with the world

"How I found & fixed the root problem behind my depression and anxiety after 20+ years" by Kaj Sotala.

It describes the concept of 'self-concept' and a, I guess, pseudo-treatment for addressing deep-set neurosis/anxiety caused by having one that is a little malformed. This post led (in a sort of roundabout way, hitting at a good time in my life and while I was already thinking in the direction of fixing this problem) to a sort of self-therapy where I snapped out of an unhealthy mental state I had been in for something like a decade. Probably good therapy could have had the same effect but I've always had trouble with that, and the ideas here led to a non-unsuccessful self-therapy. My issue was not at all related to the one he describes in the post, but the approach seemed to work anyway.


That seems like a very long-winded way of saying he didn't love himself, so he worked to reframe and reinforce positive memories and loving himself. That's pretty standard in metta meditation, you are instructed to direct love and kindness towards yourself.

I think it is not quite that simple. The key insight isn't realizing that you don't love yourself, or whatever, but realizing that your behavior today is seated in specific reinforcing memories from your past, which can be specifically re-framed in a way that causes the present behavior to dissipate, as if by magic. Assuming that is really the mechanism for what's happening, I don't see a reason to think, a priori, that just 'loving oneself' is sufficient, as it wouldn't exercise that exact mechanism for self-transformation. Anyway, my particular case did not involve anything to do with loving myself, but the same machinery seemed to work for a very different neurotic behavior.

Thank you for sharing. <3

Amazing stuff


When I have anxiety and unhappy moments in my life, I feel stuck. My natural inclination in these moments is to run. To get away, to be somewhere new, do something new, just get the eff away from wherever I am. I frequently felt that traveling and being a digital nomad would cure this problem and I would never feel that way, but the article above outlines why that isn't the case. Our problems follow us everywhere, and just because I'm eating sushi in tokyo in some cool hole in the wall doesn't mean I won't dread and have anxiety.

I am very grateful for the traveling I've done, which is a fair bit more than a lot of Americans. But in addition to that blog post it has helped me realize it isn't the cure to anything.

The article is sort of dumb and probably doesn't resonate with everyone. But it helped me

It does resonate with me. Having lived in Japan for a year I got a huge amount of benefit from it. I think the author dismisses too quickly the benefits of living and being exposed to a culture different from your own, as it acts as a new reference point for the rest of your life. If you've spent all your life in one country than living in another can really open up your mind in a genuine way. Not to mention learning a new language and being exposed to new things (like my love of karaoke and baths, not to mention tons of manga I never knew about)

And personally giving up my friends and living in a new environment forced me to adapt and become more social and less anxious. It had a huge positive effect on my confidence. I made friends different to the types of friends I had before. I did things I had never done before.

So yeah, if you end up reverting your 'baseline' then it won't help, and I can definitely understand that - I'll never be an extrovert, I'll always value having a few good friends and spending a lot of time alone - but that doesn't mean it can't be profoundly helpful for getting you out of a rut.

Did you know any japanese before traveling there?

Yeah I studied for 18 months and could read fairly well. Speaking was crap but got much better within 3 months of living there. The more studying you do beforehand the better imo


Now Then by Adam Curtis for really reinforcing my suspicion that algorithms that feed me more of what I like prevent me from ever experiencing things I havent before. Tasting new flavors means ordering what I am least, not most, familiar with.


And although I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup by Scott Alexander gets very lost and fails imho to come to a useful conclusion, I do muse both on its modern forgiveness-v-tolerance definition schism and more generally from the dark matter parts that an almost Time Machine Eloi/Morlock divide has happened to language, where everyone in America THINKS they are speaking the same language. But really, there are red and blue Englishes that are prominent, using the same words but that mean very different things. EG: Blue defines racism as something that cant happen to a majority. Red doesnt. They dont really acknowledge that the other is using the word to describe something different, they just call each other the word used from their own understanding, and then call the other side stupid. Through whistles, code switching, and signaling, phrases are now so detached from their meaning, that not speaking the language is almost assuredly an inability to interact with parts of the tribe, in any capacity more than the most superficial. In groups can have conversations where it sounds like they are saying one thing, but under the surface is a completely different conversation. Just imagine what the phrase "covid isnt real" (or "black lives matter [too/more]") means to you. If you read it ultra literally, you probably arent quite understanding what the speaker means.

Thanks for sharing I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup - I'd never read it before, and it's worth reading the whole thing. It has me reflecting on who my "out group" is.

You may also enjoy https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/26/the-atomic-bomb-consid...

Hes not someone ive read a lot of so there may be more better of which im unaware.

This wait but why article was pretty eye opening to me. My main take away was that life is made up of mostly average days. You have to learn to enjoy, or at least not be miserable, on any given average Tuesday night.

If you can accomplish that then you'll be a much happier person.


I devoured all of Joel on Software and Kathy Sierras Creating Passionate Users.

This was my favourite one on avoiding mediocrity. It crosses my mind at least weekly over a decade later!


I second both of these. Even though they write a lot about tech, you can replace the specific technologies with the modern day equivalent and it's still relevant. For a lot of the topics, I haven't come across anything else that better articulates it.

The next level is getting into the mind of Kathy Sierra. The idea that helping people become passionate -- or badass, as she later rewords -- is an end in itself. This isn't just about tech.

The Gervais Principle, Or The Office According to “The Office” https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/the-gervais-principle-...

Read it a decade later than I should have, though

Developer Hegemony references it and might be up your alley:


Same here. It was an eye-opener for me.

This logic of alpha/beta/omega always seemed incomplete to me.

The Gervais principle seems to capture reality better, the losers are the ones that form groups where people can be categorized as alpha/beta/omega etc. and the clueless and sociopaths act completely outside of such groups. For the worse (clueless) or the better (sociopaths) of themselves.

Funny enough, lately alpha/beta/omega logic includes a "sigma", which is the ham-fisted try to add sociopaths to their flawed system.

While not a blog post really, I often times revisit Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture[1] to act as a memento mori[2].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7zzQpvoYcQ [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori

For me it was The Joel Test:


I read it early in my career.

It was a simple way to assess team quality.

It's relevant today (there are parts that are out of date, but most of it is still on the mark).

It showed me the power of long form writing to share ideas around software.

Your idea is just a multiplier on your execution: https://sive.rs/multiply

I spent a lot of time thinking about ideas that were good or smart or made me feel smart. Could easily have been a lifelong chase with no real gains. Focusing on execution hasn't made me a millionaire overnight but it has helped me think about concrete things that are undeniably moving in the right direction instead of hoping to strike a "genius idea jackpot" that changes everything in an instant.

Life changing in that it changed my professional life. Steve Yegge's piece that all programmers are typists, http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2008/09/programmings-dirties.... It's been a while since I read it but my recollection of it is that your tools matter and that you need to practice to get good in using your tools. Prior to reading this I was so focused on solving "the problem" that I never realized that I spent a lot of mental energy on the tools rather that was much better spent on solving whatever I worked on. This realization has changed how I approach technical stuff in my day-to-day job.

Two posts from Astral Star Codex

* A THRIVE/SURVIVE THEORY OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM [1] - Still the best theory on the conservative/liberal divide. It changed how I view the conservative viewpoint and helped me understand it better.

* MEDITATIONS ON MOLOCH [2] - One of the most famous blog posts on the internet (certainly in HN circles at least). Part fantasy, part philosophy, part game-theory - all of it brilliant. It changed how I approach my life goals and what I need to optimize for in life. A blog post so famous that it has it's own podcast[3]!

[1] https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory...

[2] https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

[3] https://open.spotify.com/episode/7yGVsF2VPi4knhfRujM1Yx?si=q...

What you can’t say by the owner of this website. Really helped me understand my own reluctance on posting about certain topics or why my friends shied away from discussing certain things.



This one had some impact on me because it revived the importance of taking ownership not only on my personal data, but the infrastructure which generates it, processes and stores it; and that the same infrastructure should be well thought of by me through a tinkering process which adds value to itself and to data the more I invest time on it.

I felt very motivated to rethink my workflows, my opsec and the way I store any data, not only new data I create, but general content that find around the Internet and that I think could be of any use in the future.

An honorable mention would be this one: https://staltz.com/the-web-began-dying-in-2014-heres-how.htm... which helped me look at how the web has been evolving from a different angle and, of course, triggered me to change some of my behaviors regarding privacy and the use of big tech derived products.

patio11's classic post on negotiation: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

I almost doubled my compensation in large part thanks to it for one of my positions. I increased:

+ Base salary by $75k

+ Signing bonus by $35k (from $0)

+ Stock options by $100k total (standard four year vesting, so $25k per year)

If you're a knowledge worker in a sought-after field, particularly in the current environment of crazy salary explosion, you should absolutely read that blog post!

Can you tldr it?

There's No Speed Limit by Derek Sivers: https://sive.rs/kimo

While I do agree with the self improvement part of this, I also like to point out it's a different game once you start interacting with/organize people, as the Arabic saying goes:

"The soul travels at the speed of a camel"

<https://wealthyaccountant.com/2016/10/10/mister-indispensabl...> Gave me the confidence to make the final call, even if the issue is difficult. Someone has to, so why not me. It can take work and stress, but the answers are out there.

Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life by Daniel Jeffries


A blog about meaning of life and its purpose using clips from popular shows and movies. I have re-read this piece several times and I come out with something new at the end of each read.

The Groklaw farewell post: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20130818120421175

Given the circumstances of the Snowden revelations, I was struggling to articulate how I felt about privacy, the chilling effects of surveillance, and making sense of it all in terms of who I am, where I come from, and how I make my livelihood. That farewell post, along with introducing me to the writings of Janna Malamud Smith (Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life), helped shape and define my perspective on privacy.

I wish I could find it.

It was a blog post about how one man's perspective on fatherhood changed after he became a father, and he realized he regretted waiting so long, because all it really ended up doing was robbing him of being able to spend more time with his children.

Before reading it, I was ambivalent about whether I wanted children. After reading it, I wasn't.

Maybe this one? It seems to match except the "he regretted waiting so long"


Not a typical answer but this blog post led me to getting the help I needed and I'm forever grateful for it https://maxmanders.co.uk/2016/09/05/on-being-generally-anxio...

When I was 13 I read ESR’s how to become a hacker and it changed my life.. I followed the instructions starting with c++ then linux and that’s basically how I got into coding!


Ah, this one probably had more impact on me than I credit it for. Thanks for pointing it out :)

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