09-19-11 - Game Theory

When your opponent in poker is playing like an absolute moron, you don't think "god damn this guy", you think "how do I take advantage of it". If you don't want to be quite so callous, another way to say it is : you must accept the reality of the situation you are given, and then think how can you best act in that reality. You shouldn't stick to a plan (like playing straightforward tight poker) and think that the world should go along with your plan, just because you are doing things "right" (in the naive sense) doesn't mean the world is obligated to go along with it and let you win.

WA landlord-tenant law is absurdly pro-landlord. Response : don't rent, be a landlord. (CA and NY law is very pro-tenant, response is the opposite of course).

Landlords don't actually charge you enough for move-out deposit subtractions. I'm constantly pissed off by the fact that they charge me for bullshit that is totally inappropriate (like charging me for cleaning even after I've hired professional cleaners). The thing is, they might charge you the $150 cleaning fee, but they don't charge you $100 for the pain in the butt of hiring the cleaners and letting them in and out of the house. Response : don't clean your rentals, just pay the charge. (further response : don't agree to more than $500 or so security deposit)

Service men who work on plaster, fiberglass, or any of those other nasty toxic substances don't charge nearly enough for the trouble of it. They basically just charge normal low-skill labor rates, no extra fees for the life-shortening or discomfort. Response : never do this work yourself, never work with toxic substances, chemicals or fine particles, always hire someone else to do it.

Home maintenance is one of those unstable equilibria of implicit contract (like the "golden rule"). What I mean is, in home maintance you have two options :

1. Fix things properly so that they last. or 2. Fix things just well enough so that they will probably be okay for 5-10 years.

I'm really talking about things that are hard to go back and change later, that are much cheaper to do well when you have the chance. Like you have a wall open, do you use high quality studs and put in extra wiring so that you won't need to open it again later, or do you just do the minimum for the moment? Or you have the foundation exposed, do you just fill a crack with vinyl crack filler or really properly fix the foundation for the future? Or you're doing framing, do you use dense high-quality treated wood that will resist rot for a long time, or the cheapest wood that passes code?

Let us assume that over 50+ years, the more robust choice (#1) will be much better, but over 1-20 years, the cheap out choice will be better.

For you personally, chances are that the cheap-out way (#2) will be +EV , because chances are you won't live in the same house super long. But for society as a whole, if everyone did the #1 choice and fixed things properly, we would all be better off. You wouldn't come in to a home and find deferred maintenance and crappy short-term patches. Your good quality work might not pay off for you (because you move out), but the next person would inherit it, and you would inherit the good work they had done.

The problem is that cheating on the social constract is always +EV for you personally, though it may be -EV for the group.

A good example in poker arises when many pros are at a table with a whale. The most +EV way for the pros to play is to all mostly avoid each other and go after the whale, but don't make it super obvious, and don't do things that annoy him and might chase him away. But the problem is that for any one pro, you can in the short term (local maxima) increase your EV by also going after the other pros and by really baiting the whale, for example isolation raising big any time the whale enters the pot, and re-raising other people's light isolations. The problem is once all the pros start doing this, they wind up shutting the whale out of a lot of pots and playing too many pots just with each other, and the net EV of the pros goes way down.


billyzelsnack said...

0. Don't continue to build housing using fucking wood and nails. I want my house to be built like a spaceship. Is it acceptable to have windows that stick on a spaceship? Of course not! Then.. When I am done with my house I just want to melt it down so it can be turned into another house or a spaceship.

cbloom said...


old rants