I’ll give you a hint: it’s not from the rebate checks.
Let me put it this way: from now on, I am going to exercise at least twice a week. I’m going to post the remaining Quantum Computing Since Democritus lectures. I’m going to finish writing up several papers that I’ve been procrastinating on for years. I’m going to get involved in more non-work-or-blog-related social activities. And I’m going to do all of these things (and have friends and family members vouch for it) because if I don’t, then money I’ve already placed in escrow will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Library, as well as to the National Rifle Association.
Yeah, I signed up for the “commitment contract” service stickK.com, which was started in January by Yale economics professors Dean Karlan and Ian Ayres and student Jordan Goldberg. You get to choose the “anti-charities” to which your money gets donated if you don’t achieve your stated goals; surprisingly, stickK itself doesn’t take a cut (it seems to get all its money from ad revenue). The idea is obvious in retrospect; what’s amazing is that it took this long for anyone to build a company around it. So far it seems to be working. For example, I jogged on Tuesday and went swimming this morning, despite not having exercised for the previous six months. What remains to be seen is whether W. can inspire me to new heights of research productivity.
An enormous hat tip to Michael Nielsen.