Diary Entry 296 — Monday 26 January 2009 — "Courses and Credits Mean Shit to Our Friends Along the Series of Tubes"

There was a Overcoming Bias social event on the twenty-fourth. True, it hadn't even been two weeks since the last event, but Robin Hanson was in town, as was Michael Vassar. I noticed the day before that on the meetup.com site, a user named "biofreak" had RSVPed "Maybe," asking if anyone was coming from the East Bay. The user's profile introduction reads "brown dude. you know me."—[redacted] of [redacted], of course. So I made contact and we agreed to meet at University and Shattuck at 1745. After work on Saturday, I dropped off the coupons at 936 and got a woefully misnamed espresso beverage from the coffee kiösk there. Then I went downtown and parked near the library construction site. I bought a "FEMINISM IS THE RADICAL NOTION THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE" button, a replacement for the one I had bought there in 'aught-six and lost some time ago. I had recently reöutfitted my bag with three pins bought from [redacted], which site I found out about because the proprietor occasionally comments on Overcoming Bias. My newly-accessorized bag could hardly be complete without a gender pin, and for some sentimental reason I wanted it before taking [redacted] to the social; maybe I wanted to tell you. We made the rendezvous with nearly perfect timing, and it was really fun talking with [redacted]. He said he'd send me a preprint of the new Cochran and Harpending book. He said that programming is like bricklaying for not-stupid people, which I find heartening and amusing. He paid me a five for the ride.

The meetup was a wonderful experience, as always. A blonde woman wearing a red dress and black high heels stuck out among the predominantly male throng of geeks, and oh Diary, I wish I had a transcript of my brief interaction with her. (Some would argue that I should be wishing that my deontological bindings were weaker, so that I could just loosely try to recap what happened, rather than omitting relevant but inexactly-remembered experiences for fear of introducing inaccuracies into the record.) She introduced herself as [redacted]; her full name is [redacted]—the [redacted] of the blog, it turns out. (Her mentioning this explicitly made everything that came before make much more sense.) [redacted] is a fascinating character, perhaps worse than Vassar in some ways (cf. 272). For all my reading, I guess I'm still nowhere near a firm stance on evolutionary psychology. When someone you've just met casually speaks of your desire for social dominance, what can you do but stammer out a shocked and perhaps unconvincing denial? And if they reply by saying that you look male, what could I do but say that it doesn't mean I'm happy about it?—this to the apparent surprise of Robin [redacted]. Before you know it, I'm sketching a configuration space on the board. [redacted] said she was not getting the tranny vibe from me. She referred me to one [redacted], who is trans. Diary, I hope this suffices.

I got to meet [redacted] (cf. 216). I stayed past midnight, after most of the crowd had left. When I mentioned to Anna the amount of time I spend working, I think she made a face and said I could be using that time to make myself smarter. Marcello lectured to me a bit about group theory, and gave me a tip about visualizing higher-dimensional spaces by analogy that I didn't really understand. [redacted] and I talked more on the drive back, and I told him about the theme. He even suggested I perhaps give him a call some time if I come to Berkeley!

O friends O problems O books! Diary, how can I bear to be so inefficient in this world full of data? [redacted] said that I'm young; I could say that it's true, that I'm only now starting to sweep around and align myself with the dominant eigenspace of my soul. But that would just be me showing off how smart I am, and probably has nothing to do with reality. —[initials redacted]