Microfiction Draft: Course Correction

A serial killer is roaming international and hence anarchic space looking for victims to kill with impunity. He finds his way to a self-sufficient spaceship owned by a scientist who allows him to dock and rest. The scientist explains that he is studying vampire humans who he has discovered and kidnapped. He is trying to figure out how they derive their powers and if he can genetically modify humans to have the benefits of vampirism without the downsides.

The serial killer is fascinated and decides to spare the scientist. He wakes up in his room to find he has been strapped down. The scientist aims to enhance him genetically using elements of the vampire DNA. The scientist performs a procedure on him. The scientist also removes genes associated with psychopathy from the serial killer.

When the scientist finishes the procedure, the serial killer is a superhuman without the urge to kill anymore. He feels terribly guilty over what he has done and explains to the scientist his past. The scientist suggests he be a force for good now, and the man agrees. With that he programs the ship’s navigation to burn up all the fuel and launch the ship on a trajectory away from humanity, so the scientist and the vampires can never bother mankind, while he himself takes an escape pod and pilots back towards civilization.

His pod is picked up by a large spaceship used by a touring rock star in this part of space. The ex-serial killer then becomes a roadie for the rock star to make money to pay for his education, studying science, biology and engineering so he can benefit humanity as much as possible for as long as possible. He does this as penance for the people he murdered.

Fun in a rock band

I have read others' writing about how to make productive things fun in order to maintain motivation. How about the fun and productive band--having fun recording, putting together an album, promoting, playing gigs, etc.

A lot of making the productive also fun seems like doing the boring stuff while having something fun going on you can focus on as long as it doesn’t interfere with the productive element, like writing emails to promoters--you slice up the task into easy pieces so you can do the easy pieces while doing something fun, or you can oscillate between the fun element and the productive element so you don’t get bored--5 minutes sending emails, 5 minutes watching a stand up special.

Save up fun stuff for cleaning time, countering boredom.

People I've read have thought about fun ways of doing valuable things to keep up motivation. A fun method for keeping the house clean: when cleaning, have something interesting going--an audio book or tv show playing. Save up fun stuff for cleaning time, countering boredom.

Infinite people

People live forever and have no birth or death. Otherwise they are normal. What does the world look like given this?

The more you scale up on what seems to work, the more evidence you get of whether it works.

Yesterday I wrote about scaling up on positive findings. You tweet to get data. Some tweets do better than others. They might be popular or they might be lucky.

Scaling up gives you more data. If the tweets were lucky, you do more such tweets, they wouldn’t replicate success, like a bad study. Popular types of tweets would.

The more you scale up on what seems to work, the more evidence you get of whether it works. You tweet one thing. It seems to work. You tweet 100 similar tweets. They do better than average. That seems a success. Or you tweet 100 similar tweets, get average or worse results, the experiment suggests luck.


I am tired, having trouble focusing. My energy improved the past couple of days though. My wife thought I should stop eating gluten. I have the marker for Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease runs in the family. I have low vitamin D, suggestive of Celiac Disease.

I stopped eating gluten. It might be coincident or causal of feeling better. I am willing to see how it goes. My wife suggested two weeks without gluten.

Scaling up on what seems to work knocks down the hypothesis or exploits the insight

Maybe I have to write how I want, do a lot, and get better from reading and reacting to the writing.

It's not a bad idea to put writing on the blog, see what gets positive reactions, and focus on what works.

With Twitter I’ll look at what tweets did well. I'll do more of those tweets. The process probably makes me a more efficient tweeter. Truly a great skill...

I looked at my defunct blog. I looked at the successful blog posts. I could do more of those blog posts. A thought experiment about what would happen if no one died was most popular. The post got linked to by someone on Facebook who drove princeton.edu traffic to my site. The post was poorly written. It had interesting ideas though. Maybe I should do more thought-experiment blog posts.

I draw posts from my journal. What I journal about could be influenced by blog stats of what works.

I read Andrew Gelman’s blog. He talks about misusing the statistical method. My naive attitude was to look at what seemed to work--a blog post, a tweet, a good conversation, a method of meeting people, etc.--going on little info. I would scale up on that stuff.

I wonder if I acted on noise. If I did, scaling up would knock down the hypothesis that you’re on to something. When you have something that works *scaling up allows you to exploit the insight.*

I don’t have a mathematical sense of when you’re looking at noise or signal. Personality-type-guess tweets I post get more views than average. The average tweet gets maybe 20-30 views. A personality-type-guess tweet gets maybe 50-ish views. I have done around 30 personality-type tweets.

Is that test sufficient to say personality-type-guess tweets work? Or am I interpreting too little data? The more I do, the clearer the pattern or non-pattern will become.

Is it better to read more at the expense of writing or write more at the expense of reading?

I learn from writing. Writing makes me smarter. Reading makes me smarter too. Is it better to read more at the expense of writing or write more at the expense of reading?

I'd guess writing at the expense of reading.

Fiction World Building: The Zombie Horde and Frankenstein's Kingdom

There was the Zombie Horde. The Zombie Horde roamed the periphery of all all the kingdoms, perpetually attacking humans to eat their brains. The horde was ruled by non-zombie beings, a mix of humans, vampires, and others, who acted essentially as herders of the zombies. The Horde leaders would seek out humans who would willingly convert to zombie-hood because they were mortally ill and wished to continue on in some form of life. The horde leaders sold their services to various kingdoms, helping one, then helping another, in attacking populations who served as a ready source of brains for the zombies.

There was Frankenstein's Kingdom. This was a kingdom founded by one mad scientist, Victor von Frankenstein, a noble who turned his dead serfs through scientific experimentation into superhumanly powerful and intelligent beings designed to be useful to Frankenstein, with varying results. Earlier monsters were often unruly and rebelled and ran off, serving at times as powerful allies of other kingdoms or becoming powerful figures in their own right, as generals or capable lords or merchants. Later monsters were much more obedient and well-suited to their particular roles in Frankenstein’s kingdom, which, when he felt he had produced a sufficiently powerful monster army, declared himself sovereign over his land and fought off attempts by the Human Kingdom to bring him back into the fold.

Create a weird world, then write stories based in that world

I was listening to HP Lovecraft while driving, his...it was the ‘High House in the Mist’ and ‘The Silver Key’ and then I started in on the ‘Dream Quest of Unknown Kaddath’ which was kind of--it all was a bit boring to me, as the guys on the HP Podcraft I think also said, except ‘...Kaddath’ got me hooked a bit the further in I got. I guess Lovecraft started painting a picture in my head that I enjoyed, of the weird...it was the scene when Randolph Carter is seeing these weird--I forget what they were--goopy things I guess that were slave-driver humanoids. That was cool.

Maybe I’ll try writing a ‘Dream Quest…’ type story, create a weird world. Then write stories based in that world, like HP Lovecraft may have.

Easy options take up less time, energy, et c. to pursue, by definition, so you can do more of them

Why don’t we all do easiest stuff first? I guess there is computer science’s point of ‘resource starvation.’ That is a problem. On the other hand, if you are faced with endless options in the world, some will be explored, most won’t. If you pursue the easy stuff, you can pursue more options--easy options take up less time, energy, et c. to pursue, by definition, so you can do more of them. Are easy options systematically less likely to pay off? Is that it? If the world’s pay-offs are, as people have argued, often 80/20, which seems more or less true to me, and you don’t know what is in the 80% of options with small pay-offs and what is in the 20% of options with big pay-offs, doing easy stuff is going to get you more coverage of the option space, right?

Someone argued, Seth Godin I think, maybe others, that hard stuff is underexploited because it’s hard, where there is tons of competition for the easy options. Alex Tabarrok made a similar point about easy or fun jobs paying little because people like doing them, whereas hard jobs need higher pay to induce people to do them--something like that anyway. Possibly, though it seems like there is a lot of competition in the hard stuff too, like SpaceX has to compete with Blue Origins etc. Also, as Seth Roberts more or less pointed out here, easy to you isn’t easy to everyone, so you might be focusing on your strengths when you focus on easy, and this might be a means of driving specialization in groups of people.