Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Thumbs Up

What does the phrase "a thumbs up" mean? I did some haphazard Googling, and always found it written "a thumbs up," rather than "a thumb's up." However, it seems like giving a thumbs-up means only one thumb is up, so it should be a thumb-up. My theory is it should actually be a thumb's up, using up like a noun as he "The basketball player has mad ups."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You can never be too nice.

I saw this earlier today. Since one of my favorite words is "niiiiiiiiiice," I figured I'd do the same thing.

# 'i'sWord# Hits
1nice602 mil

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The other day at work, I was hungry and decided to go downstairs and get a quick snack. I grabbed a fistful of change from my desk drawer, hoping to finally make use of it. When I reached the register, my snack ended up being $1.67. I reached into my pocket and to my amazement, I had, in fact, randomly picked up exactly 67 cents. No more, no less. How awesome is that?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Google Reader

From your 96 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 5,558 items, starred 17 items, shared 179 items, and emailed 0 items.

Day of the Week

Last 30 Days

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Last blog post

This will be my last blog post. I'm as fit to blog as I am to tweet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ATM Woes

I left my ATM card in the ATM machine. Twice in two months...not a good track record.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why isn't there a woman on our blog?

Lately, there've been a few articles crossing my RSS about the differences between men and women--specifically differences in how we think. This is nothing new to either or the world. We've had this conversation, and it can become pretty heated.

Freakonomics cited an article today posing the question "Why didn't a woman write Freakonomics?" Or for that matter, why are women so underrepresented in current serious non-fiction books? Another blogger citing this blog asked why there are hardly any big-name female artists.

Over at the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer published an article today discussing differences between men and women, particularly with regards to rationality of thought and political decisions. He cites one study that compares the differences in investment strategy between single women, married men, and single women, and rates their rationality in that order. The study concluded:
What they found, in a nutshell, is that men not only trade more often than women but do so from a false faith in their own financial judgment.
It showed (perhaps rather dubiously), that people tended to invest more rationally if there's more female presence in their life (a single man being the least rational, and an actual woman being the most rational).

In a conversation about differences in decision making between men and women, she told me that she believes that men are more emotional and women are more "linear-logical." After some thought, I decided that I could buy into these classifications, but perhaps with some clarification. I believe that men tend to be more instinct oriented--or inclined to make gut decisions, where as women take a more rational route. I am not saying is that men are more emotionally intuitive or empathetic.

One place where I find this particular distinction evident is in playing games with women. Playing poker with men tends to get pretty heated. The great skill of a male poker player is to never go on tilt and to remain rational. Poker is, in the long run, a numbers game, and one's gut response is of negligible consideration. When I've played with women, they go directly to an analytical approach, and instead of running into the game, usually sit back and get a real feel for it. They build a somewhat mathematical model and shun knee-jerk reactions.

Another phenomenon that I've become increasingly aware of is men's love of arguing. Men love to fight--whether about philosophy, politics, sports, or tactics and strategy (I use these terms loosely, as in strategy for fixing the economy or strategy for writing a computer program). Men have long-lasting friendships where there are chronic arguments. These arguments, however, are usually predicated on two different intuitive views of a situation--men will fight about things forever, but in most cases about issues in which they have overblown confidence in their judgment.

I think this same intuitive decision making to which men are predisposed enables them to succeed strongly in academia. One must have a great deal of confidence in his position to write a book or in his perspective to create an art exhibit. This confidence can't result from a rational analysis--it must come from the gut, and must be disproportionally large compared to his actual acumen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My new perspective on RSS

I deleted Reddit and Boing Boing from my RSS. The only other feed I've removed recently is Andrew Sullivan. I prefer feeds that post once or twice daily, and not these 30+ articles/day aggregators. I like it better when I'm constantly delivered high quality, thought out posts, instead of vapid crap of the internet.

Today, I'm still subscribed to fmylife. FML

If she asked, I'd say yes.

I'd marry this pianist in an instant (2:05 is about when the third movement begins).

She certainly beats my previous favorite for this piece:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obituaries, aged 4 months, 3 days, died on Monday, March 9 at approximately 12:30 AM. The cause of death was boredom. SettlingTheTab struggled much of its life, coping with bad humor and pledges to stop drinking. SettlingTheTab is succeeded by its contributers Chris Kantos, Harsha Dronamraju, Pete Lynch, Nate Haduch, and Robby Ramdin.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My first post

I couldn't decide on a topic for my first post on Settling the Tab, so I went through my recent emails to see what interesting nuggets could be found. Also, I should note that what follows is an example of something that I consider to be "interesting." However, you should proceed only if prepared to be bored by poker minutia...

We're six handed, so my 88 is pretty good against 1 player. It's normally the kind of hand you call the BB with and see a flop, hoping for a set or a particularly favorable texture--typically, a larger pocket pair will have raised. 1010, for instance, has as lot of pre-flop equity, but if you're going against, say, 2 players and don't raise, 1010 is looking for a 2-outer most of the time (probability that there's a card >10 on the flop = 69.5%. So you certainly raise with 1010. 88 is a similar hand but, while dominated by 1010, it plays a called raise much the same way as does 1010 (it's just slightly weaker, becasue 88 is losing to 99 and 1010). The hands that are calling a rasise 6-handed are likely a pocket pair up to 1010 or JJ. JJ or QQ-AA are raising (as, if you're Sean, is AQ [and by extension AK]). AJ is probably calling. Pocket pairs maybe down to 66 or 55 are probably calling (or maybe even raising if the opponent is trying to get tricky).

We both obviously know that you have to use a mixed strategy--if every time you have a mid-pair you limp, your opponents have a really easy time of putting you on a hand and when you do win, you win less. So let's assume, for the sake of argument, that raising with 88 is okay some of the time.

So when you raise with 88, your callers are probably something like 55-JJ, AJ, AQ, and AK. Your raisers are probably something like JJ-AA, AK, AQ, and I'll add in AJ because hey--if Sean thinks AQ is that good, he probably doesn't think a whole lot less of AJ. Maybe (let's say 25% of the time) some other pair (to simplify, let's split the difference between the pairs bigger than 88 and the pairs lower than 88--meaning that for 25% of raises, you have a 50% chance of having the better pocket pair.

So we have:
6 ways to make JJ
6 ways to make QQ
6 ways to make KK
6 ways to make AA
8 ways to make AJ
8 ways to make AQ
8 ways to make AK
...these account for (we're assuming) 75% of hands that have raised.
So we'll assume that there are 12 ways to make a split pot

The only face card that came up on the flop was Q, so suddenly, there are only 3 ways to make QQ with hole cards.

We need to update our preflop-raise breakdown...

6 ways to make JJ (I'm losing to this)
3 ways to make QQ (losing)
6 ways to make KK (losing)
6 ways to make AA (losing)
8 ways to make AJ (winning)
6 ways to make AQ (losing)
8 ways to make AK (winning)

These hands can be made in 43 ways.
We're still using 25% for the probability that the opponent has some other pair, so we'll say that there are 14 ways to make his other hands
I didn't set up my eights on the flop. However, we don't know whether the opponent did (but we do know that the Q has come up, and that case is already covered above. So we need to think about the possibility of a random pair not mentioned above setting up on one of the first two cards of the flop--this comes out to about 8% of the time.

Right now we're dealing with a total of 57 hands:
6/57 opponent has JJ (I'm losing, with about a 8% chance of winning)
3/57 opponent has QQ (drawing dead)
6/57 opponent has KK (losing with 8% chance of winning)
6/57 opponent has AA (losing with 8% chance of winning)
8/57 opponent has AJ (winning with 24% chance of losing)
6/57 opponent has AQ (losing with 8% chance of winning)
8/57 opponent has AK (winning with 24% chance of losing)
14/57 opponent has an unknown pair below JJ
So my odds of winning are determined as follows:


= (24/57)(0.08) + (16/57)(0.76) + (7/57)

= 0.034 + 0.213 + 0.123 = 0.370

So once that flop comes out, I've got a 37% chance of winning the hand.

If my preflop raise is just called, my calculations can include more low pocket pairs, which means that I'm probably (currently) ahead.
When I'm raised, I call, and the Q is out there, I'm probably going to win 35-40% of the time.
So there are a couple of things here:

1) Knowing now that I'm winning 35-40% of the time, does hindsight tell me that I should have I bet on the flop or just check and give up when Sean bets?
2) Did I make a mistake by calling the raise to 2x my bet (my initial bet was somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 BB)

I'm inclined to think that, once at the flop with one scary overcard that isn't an ace, I should bet.
I'm also inclined to think that I shouldn't call the re-raise (even though it ended up being the case that Sean was just holding AQ) in the first place.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Location Location Location!

With the malaise about the economy being written, spoken, and in general pervading every sensory outlet we have as humans recently, I find myself being a bit more conscious about prices of the things I usually used to look past.

Take lunch for example. There is a Sebastians in the lobby of my office building. The restaurant offers your standard business breakfast and lunch fare: coffees pastries, sandwiches, pre-packaged salads, etc. Generally, it is the "go-to" spot for all of Cambridge Associates. It's good food, it has good variety, and for god sakes its in the same building! Especially in the cold months, you can't find a better bet than Sebs.

The other day, I was craving a chocolate chip cookie, so without thinking I quickly got on the elevator and walked over to Sebastians. After purchasing it, I quickly realized that this cookie was about $5! Pretty steep I thought. Just out of curiosity, I walked across the street (literally) to Viga, an Italian eatery, to see what their cookie prices were. It was cheaper (for the same brand I think too!). I didn't try this, but I'd venture to say that as you walked away from the cluster of office buildings on Summer St, lunches would get cheaper and cheaper. Sebastians, by virtue of being in such a prime location to the tenants of 100 Summer St, could charge all they wanted. They know that people are willing to pay the premium so they don't have to bundle up. The axiom proves itself once again: Location Location Location!

This also got me thinking about the idea of owning land in general. Real Estate is the optimal investment. It provides income and growth, and can thus help you in a bull or bear market. And if its a house or a condo, it can even provide shelter. The only thing it's missing is food. Real Estate also fits the Famous Warren Buffett's maxim of "Investing in things you understand." There's nothing easier to understand than a house.

In the Sebs example, I'm sure the sunk costs are high to get your hands on a good location. But in the long run, its a worthy investment. If all your other investments are tanking (as they are for many people now), you can ideally bank on your tenant's rent to provide some relief. When the economy is good and people are buying, the value of your real estate investment benefits as well.

Robby circulated an article earlier today that talked about pending inflation as a result of the government bail-out package. Holding onto something like Real Estate can really assist in maintaining wealth if cash and other investments are hemorrhaging value.

Now practically speaking, buying land or a first home or condo is years away for people our age. But, seeing as we're always looking for an investment strategy, I thought I'd put my (future) money on some bricks and mortar.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

This Atheist is Having a Crisis of Faith

A question I have is what are the assumptions we make when creating our view of the world? Every philosophy has a set of preconditions (in logic these would be axioms). This is where issues like cogito ergo sum arise--what exactly are the assumptions we are making? A precondition of Christianity is a belief in God. A precondition of atheists is credence to science. If all that exists is our own consciousness and there is no world, how could evolution and all of science be correct--they would just be constructs of our mind. Atheists make the claim that what they observe is real. Christians simply claim to observe one thing atheists don't--the existence of god. What's the difference between the philosophies?

Deists claim that they feel the presence of a god. They also claim that they can feel it with a certain degree of consistence. If they pray, they feel god's presence. If they live holy lives, they feel god smiling on them. If they have a crisis of faith, they are losing the quality that lets them observe God. If you were to assume there is a god, it clearly follows that he could choose to be observable by certain people for certain reasons. Furthermore, it is clear that it could be possible for people who can communicate with God to teach others how to communicate with Him as well (such as their children or the subjects of their missionary endeavors).

Atheists claim that science is valid because it is the result of what we observe. However not all of this observation happens naturally. If you are trying to teach someone how circuits work, you have to teach them how to use something like an ohmmeter, ammeter, or voltmeter. If they closed their minds to you and refused to learn how to use such a device, how could they ever observe current, amperage, or resistance. It seems like a shaky line between giving yourself the tools to observe science and the faith to observe a god.

The two objections to this that I see are:

Is science or observation actually a precondition of atheism? Or does atheism have no precondition? I think many atheists might initially say there is no precondition, but I'd say that's in direct conflict with how they live their lives. Most atheists think they have a purpose (mostly evolutionarily, but maybe even just to increase their happiness or the quality of their lives), so there seems to be a precondition of some sort.

The other is that, with science, you can show people the results of your theories (they don't have to observe current, resistance, and voltage in order to observe a computer working), but they could simply argue the computer's functionality is due to God. The counter-argument to that is the clear reproducibility of scientific theories whereas talking to God doesn't yield as consistent results. However it's easy to argue that God created the reproducibility of science, and that talking to God is like talking to a person--you can say the same thing to them 10 days in a row, but their response will absolutely differ each day.

It's because of issues like this that I am growing increasingly reluctant to call religious people wrong.