29 January 2007

Re: No Subject

No subject is the subject of this post. Or in other words, the subject is "no subject." This is in reference to the vast percentage (though meager quantities) of messages I receive from friends on facebook and myspace with said title.

The subject line is a relic from the days of memos. You never went through the trouble of writing a memo without a subject in mind. Nowadays, in the age of e-mail, text messaging and pretty much just all around constant messaging, sending a message is no trouble at all. So if you just have a short thing or half a thing to say, do you really want to spend the time to think of a witty title?

No, you don't. And you also don't want to write some cheesy ("hey man!") or borderline sketchy ("just thinking of you...") title that sends the wrong message. So you type out a couple cheap lines and hit send. And on the other end the recipient gets that wonderful line

No Subject

The best is when you reply back and forth to this and it becomes

RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: No Subject

About this time you stop hitting reply and craft a new message with -- you guessed it -- no subject.

23 January 2007

You, the Oracle

Bryan Caplan presents the following hypothetical dialog:

"I'm sure that a Democrat will win in 2008."

"Sure? OK, let's bet at 100:1."

"Umm, no thanks. But I'll do it for even odds."

Basically the question is why, if we are so sure of ourselves and our opinions, do we act as if we are something less than certain. Bryan has 4 reasons, but his and my favorite is,
A bet instantly raises the marginal private cost of error, which leads to a sharp increase in rationality. Faced with financial consequences, people suddenly - if temporarily - admit to themselves that they know a lot less than they like to believe - and bet accordingly.

22 January 2007

methods of visualization

You've gathered some data. Let's say you're a private detective and have dug up some dirt on your client's lover. What is the best way to represent that data. You could give them all the documents and photographs that contain interesting information. You could create a bulleted list of things you suspect the lover of having done. You could create a time line of mischievous behavior. The possibilities are endless, but here is a fairly comprehensive list of ways to visualize data.

You are very small

In the grand scheme of things (say compared to W Cephi) you are small. If you don't believe me, then watch this video. If a red blood cell was scaled up to its size on W Cephi, that one cell could hold enough blood to fill three human bodies.

W Cephi = 288,194 X Earth
Red Blood Cell = 1/100,000,000 meters
Size of red blood cell on W Cephi = about 1/4 meter
Volume of RBC on W Cephi = 1/64 meters cubed = about 15 liters
Blood in human body = about 5 litres

Of course size is relative, and you are relatively big compared to the stuff around you. That is probably easy to believe, but for completeness, here is a link of really small things.

The gentlemanly motive.

What is the motive for chivalrous behavior? No, not Chivalry. Just your standard, modern, run of the mill gentlemanly behavior. We are always hearing that "chivalry is dead." Is it dead? Why did it die? In fact, why did it exist in the first place? Here is a theory:

In the past men treated women with respect and courteousness out of pity and guilt for the oppression that women were living in. An oppression caused by the male dominated world.

Today men treat women with respect and courteousness out of desperation due to the progress that women have achieved over the past 50 years. Women are now in direct competition with men. Men have less reason to pity women. The main purpose of chivalry today is to court a woman. Since men generally are trying to impress a small number of women at a time, they show less respect overall.