Anyway, it's reminding me of a concept I often think about. I'll call it "the redrawer's dilemma" but there must be a better/standard name for this.
The hypothetical game goes something like this :
You are given a bag with 100 numbers in it. You know the numbers are in [0,1000] but don't know how many of each number there are in the bag. You start by drawing a random number from the bag.
At each turn of play, you can either keep your current number (in which case that is your final score), or you can put your current number back in the bag and draw again, but drawing again costs you -1 that will be subtracted from your final score.
How do you play this game optimally?
There are two things that are interesting to me about this game in real life. One is that humans almost always play it incredibly badly, and the second is that when you finally decide to stop redrawing you're almost always unhappy about it (unless you got super lucky and draw a 900+ number).
The two classic human player errors in this game are the "I just started drawing, I shouldn't stand yet" and the "I can't stop now, I already passed on something better than this". The "I just started drawing, I shouldn't stand yet" guy draws something like an 800 on one of his early draws. He thinks dang that's really good, but maybe this bag just has lots of high numbers in it, I just started drawing, I should put some time into it. Now of course that reasoning is based in correct logic - if you have reason to believe that your chance of drawing higher is good enough to merit the cost of continued looking, then yes, do so, but just drawing more because "it's early" makes no sense - the game is totally non temporal, the cost of continuing drawing doesn't go up over time. This often leads into the "I can't stop now, I already passed on something better than this" guy, who's mainly motivated by pride and shame - he doesn't want to admit to himself that he made a big mistake passing early when he got a high number, so he has to keep drawing until he gets something better. He might draw an 800, then a whole mess of single digit numbers and he's thinking "oh fuck I blew it" and then he draws a 400. At that point he should stand and quit redrawing, but he can't, so he draws again.
The thing is, even if he played correctly and just took the 400 after passing on the 800, he would be really unhappy about. And if the early termination guy played correctly and just got an early 800 and didn't draw, he would be unhappy too, because he'd always be wondering if he could've done better.
The other game theory / logical fallacy that plagues me in these kind of things is "I'm already spending X I may as well spend X". First I was looking for places around $1500, then I bumped it to $1700, then $1900. Now I'm looking at places for $2500 cuz fuck it they're nicer and I was looking at places for $2000 so it's only $500 more.
In other news, hotpads is actually a pretty cool apartment search site. It seems they are just scraping craigslist and maybe some other classifieds sites, so it's not like they have anything new, but the map interface and search features and such are solid. One thing is really annoying me about it though - the wheel zooming in the map is totally broken, I keep trying to wheel zoom and it sends the map off the never never land. Urg!
In more random news, I've really enjoyed the "Wallander" series on PBS ; the stories are pretty retarded/ridiculous, but I like the muddled contemplative pace of it, and the washed out monochrome color palette.