9/07/2004

9-07-04 - 1

9-07-04

Sometimes I come across as very negative. Part of this is because I think negative critiques are more interesting. There are a lot of famous book critics who are famous for tearing books apart. If you just write glowing reviews (even if they're honest) - they're not interesting. There's far more tension and controversy in taking something that most people like and pointing out how stupid it really is.

The other tricky thing is that I always think in terms of the "deltas" (differences) from what I assume is the baseline opinion. For example on 8-18, I wrote how I "hate DVDs". I don't mention any of the good things about DVD's (better video quality than VHS, great sound quality, instant seeking to labels, etc.), because I assume you all know them, so I don't need to go over them. I only mention the points that aren't generally accepted, which are often critical.

This same principal is at play in the news. Newspapers (and TV news) generally only cover the new developments, they don't give context because they assume everyone knows it. Of course, the vast majority of people actually don't know it, and the result is a very strange understanding of the world, because you are only reading the "deltas" from the past and you don't know what the baseline was.

There's a similar principal with stocks and happiness. The baseline expectation for a company is already built into its stock price. So, if the company does very well, the stock won't rise if that was already in the valuation. Even if the company does very well, if it's below expectation, the stock will fall. This can lead to a very strange predicament where a company has a great hugely profitable year, but the stock falls because it didn't meet expectation. Of course the same thing happens with human emotions. You build up expectations for something, and then even if it's great, if it doesn't meet expectations, you won't enjoy it.


9-04-04

A model for sports records - a real number is drawn from a random Gaussian source; this is the performance of an individual athelete. One is drawn at each time t. If the number is larger than any seen before, a record is set. What is the mean time between records, as a function of t? At time 0, the chance of a record is 100%; at time 1, the chance is 50% on average, etc. Obviously the mean time between records decreases rapidly as t gets larger. The actual mathematics is left as an excercise for the reader ;) The rough answer is that the mean time between records increases exponentially.


9-02-04

TV keeps you from having to think. Thinking is horrible agony.

It's funny watching preseason football, because it SUCKS. The games don't matter, and they play the 2nd string guys. But then I realize - these guys are still like 100X better than me at football, and yet it totally sucks to watch them? That must mean it's agony to watch me play sports.

I rejoice in the different speeds of seeing the world. Driving - you see a vineyard, a barn, a road, a cliff. Flying - you see a green square, a line of mountains, the line of the coast. Walking - you see a rose bush, a nickel on the sidewalk, a doorway. Biking - you see the wild plants between the houses, the prices on the road-side farm stand.

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old rants