2023 TIL

Nov 30



Long-term memory.

There are Orders of Learning. We learn lower-order learning process in grade school. There is also higher-order learning. Someone who can explain things very clearly generally has practiced higher-order learning.

Bloom's Taxonomy

This is a pyramid from high to low.

  • create: produce new or original work
    • design, assemble, construct, conjecture, develop, formulate, author, investigate
  • evaluate: justify a stand or decision
    • appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, value, critique, weigh
  • analyze: draw connections among ideas
    • differntiate, organize, relate, compare, contrast, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test
  • apply: use information in new situations
    • execute, implement, solve, use, demonstrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch
  • understand: explain ideas or concepts
    • classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate
  • remember: recall facts and basic concepts
    • define, duplicate, list, memorize, repeat, state

As soon as possible, try to move to higher-order learning: apply, analyze, evaluate. Analyze: compare an idea in relation to other ideas. Evaluate: Judge an idea in relation to others, figure out which parts of a relationship are most important.

Solo Taxonomy

  • Prestructural
    • Learning outcomes show unconnected information and no organization
  • Unistructural
    • Learning outcomes show simple connections but importance is not noted
  • Multistructural
    • Learning outcomes show connections are made but significance to overall meaning is missing
  • Relational
    • Learning outcomes show connections are made and parts are synthesized with the overall meaning
  • Extended abstract
    • Learning outcomes go beyond the subject and make links to other concepts -- generalizing, predicting, evaluating

Relating ideas to others as soon as possible means you can skip the lower levels of thinking. Your brain will automatically fill in the lower level of thinking (remembering, understanding).

If you try to learn ideas at one learning level at a time, the steps are isolated and less efficient. Retention is on average 40-60% better compared to using lower-level learning.

Taking notes right away is tempting and feels good (takes a burden off your shoulders), but is not necessarily good. You're likely reducing your cognitive load.

Instead of writing notes right away, ask yourself, "How does that relate to what I learn?" "How does this relate to the big picture?" Then you'll be able to read/consume more things more effectively without spending time writing notes; you'll be able to write some higher-level analysis afterward. This process is a skill that takes time to train!

If there's too many relationships in your head, try to just "apply" first to increase your cognitive load tolerance. Then proceed to higher order learning levels.

Specific learning techniques


"Desirable difficulties". Make learning harder in short term but result in longer-lasting, more durable learning long term.

  • Spaced practice
    • separate learning sessions by time
  • Interleaving
    • mix up problem types you're working on
  • contextual variation
    • apply ideas to other contexts
  • testing

You need retrieval for all of these learnings.

What is effective retrieval practice?

  • synthesis
  • reorganization
  • comparison
  • application
  • contexts

These concepts are not covered with spaced repetition systems (SRS).

For learning a language, speaking with someone is a form of retrieval. You need to recall the right words and grammar to speak naturally.

My thoughts

Lower levels of learning are effective in lower grade schools. Higher grade schools and probably graduate school require higher level learning.

Nov 27

We are shaped by our past, not defined by it.

  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey: Legacy of the First Blade

Aug 26

Buddha volume 7.

Be like a tree. Trees have no desires. Trees wither and die. If not, they are cut down. What does a tree feel when it's being axed? "It hurts"? "They're killing me"? "Poor me"? Tree, if you had a mouth, you'd scream. If you had eyes, you'd weep. If you could movez you'd try to run away. But a tree can do none of those things, so it calmly awaits the day.
Seniya, you too. If your fate is inescapable, then be brave and be prepared. Live rightly, act rightly until that day!

Aug 20

Finished Buddha volume 6. It ends with Buddha telling a sermon about desiring no more and no less than to do what you need to do to survive.

This message tracks with what I know about Buddhism. Sometimes the message resonates with me, and sometimes I think, is it wrong to want more than to merely survive? Well, it's not necessarily to "merely" survive, but to live without suffering, without attachment to things you can't have or that will eventually go away. I think the parables offered in the sermon, in the manga, maybe just kinda rubbed me the wrong way: a pond overcrowded with ducks, and some ducks fly away to other lands but eventually die, while the ones who stay survive and want nothing more or less seemed kinda depressing and not inspiring. The crocodiles, who learn to accept some creatures in the river so that there is a symbiotic balance -- that one is more appealing to me. Seeking a balance, not wanting in excess, working "with" nature.

There are 8 substantial omnibuses to this series -- I have two more to go. I've liked it a lot over all. There are many moments like this where I find myself stepping back and reflecting on myself. At the same time, the treatment of women is rather tiresome. Even if the subject matter and the writing are products of their time and based on the real stories and legends of the Buddha, the work is still an art, ultimately a fictional retelling, with many artistic leniencies made re: purposely anachronistic jokes, fudged or made-up characters, and so on. It would've been nice if Tezuka also took the opportunity to treat women better and make them more prominent than male character development pieces, love interests, literal temptress snakes, or literal mutes.

Aug 7

  • https://youtube.com/shorts/Ne4ovmxAVlE?feature=share
    • Don't be who you're supposed to be. Be who you want to be.
    • A silver lining to age is wisdom. You don't have to prove yourself to be accepted by others. You can just walk away from people who aren't loving, respectful, and kind to you.
    • Try to find the happiness in every moment.
    • Be true to yourself.
    • Money well spent: on travel, anytime, anywhere.

May 21

  • Lichess.org is one of the most popular free online chess websites. Its backend called Lila (Libre/live + scala) is in Scala, and it's FOSS!
  • Ding Liren is this year's grand chess master, and the first ever hailing from China. He was considered an underdog. He had a tough time leading up to the tournament match: lots of pressure, a breakup from his girlfriend, his prep games getting leaked to his future opponents, and thoughts of retiring from chess if he loses. One thing that kept him going was a quote from Albert Camus:
    • If you can't win, you have to resist... The is that is that if you see that you cannot win, do everything in your power to resist.

    • Source: El Pais
    • Reading this story gave me a renewed appreciation for chess, as well as validation in my emotional and mental struggles with work this past half-year -- I excelled last year, was rejected recognition I thought I deserved, felt incompetent for not getting it and simultaneously having a hard time with a new project, and (mostly self-inflicted) pressure to do more under new management. I made a new long-term goal to retire early, or at least work part time or a relatively chill job by age 40. I don't think (and I don't hope) I'll fully regain my resolve to keep rising the ranks in the corporate ladder. If I get another promotion, it's a nice bonus; but I will do my best not to get attached to the idea again. But I felt some kinship in this world-class chess player who felt hopeless and wanted to quit despite his incredible skills. I'm not saying I'm a world-class software engineer, but I know I don't give myself enough credit, and I shouldn't feel like I'm simply treading water. I am doing well. The only person who says I am not is the devil in my head. I need to resist it!

January 23

  • A retroactive post: NPS Solovair has the original Doc Martens manufacturers. Worth checking out if I'm in the market for those kinds of boots again.