Friday, September 25, 2009

Life's Not Fair

Every time I meet a girl that I'm attracted to and feel compatible with, that girl is guaranteed to be in a relationship already. The worst part is that they always seem to have fundamental complaints about their current relationship, but they stay in them anyways. Does this mean that the approach most people are using is to just date whoever and go from relationship to relationship in some sort of upgrade fashion?

I ask this, because I have always thought that it's not right to flirt with a girl who is in a relationship or is getting over a relationship. However, if people are just going relationship to relationship, isn't that the only way to ever end up with one of these girls?

I guess logic would dictate that every girl must be considered fair game to optimize for quality. Yes, I know, that was spoken like an engineer. It may seem obvious to most people, but for us idealists, it's something we're reluctant to accept.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Health Care Reform

The debate on whether the government should provide a public option is very easily summed up:

Why are private citizens against a public option that would give them another option for health care (you can still choose your old health coverage)? Are you really so worried that the highly lucrative health care industry's profits will suffer?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kanye West = "Jackass"

By now, I'm sure you've heard about Kanye West's little stunt that ruined Taylor Swift's award speech at the Video Music Awards. The best thing to come of this, however, is President Obama calling Kanye West a "jackass."

I love it when high ranking political figures show their human side. I cheered for Dubya when he showed nice reflexes in dodging the shoes thrown at him. I'm glad Barack Obama was willing to react like a normal person to Kanye West being a jackass.

Friday, September 11, 2009


My 30th birthday is coming to an end. This year was actually a pretty good birthday.

I went to work as normal. However, one of my best friends sent me this big bunch of balloons to my company declaring me to be "over the hill" etc. This led to a bunch of folks from work wishing me happy birthday and asking me how old I was turning so they could decide how over the hill I really was. Most of them are older than I am, so they decided I wasn't quite over the hill yet.

My roommate also gave the the cool Beatles Rock Band game since he's an absolute Beatles nut and I'm a fan of theirs. We ended up playing the Beatles Rock Band game (despite it being my company's rival's game) and had a lot of fun with it.

This stuff generally made me realize that I've been kind of unnecessarily grumpy about my birthday for a while. 2000 was a really bad year for me when my sister passed away. Then 2001 brought the World Trade Center attacks on my birthday. This set this deep impression on my brain that my birthday was not something to be happy about. This eventually became a habit, but this year has felt a good deal better.

So hopefully this is a good start for my 30s!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Current Financial Collapse

I came across an interesting write up discussing contemporary economics and the majority of influential economists failed to foresee the recent economic problems caused by the financial system collapse.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but I knew in the last few years that the real estate market was highly overvalued. I didn't know why (all the shady lending stuff) at the time, but I knew that the system made no sense. How did I know? Because my parents were suggesting that I look into buying a house for all the usual reasons (long term investment, etc).

I looked around at houses in Orange County and I was pretty shocked at how unaffordable houses are. My income isn't super high, but in my opinion, a software engineer such as myself should be able to afford a reasonable house. When I looked around, I saw opportunities to pay $600,000 for a small 2 bedroom townhouse. The 2 bedroom condo unit I was living in, which wasn't in great condition, was on the market for around $380,000.

My personal view of the value of these types of properties was that they were simply not worth the money. It turns out I was right. The ketchup analogy (where if two ounces of ketchup cost twice as much as one ounce, then the ketchup prices must make sense) is a great way to understand that people were simply comparing relative values of houses without thinking enough about the absolute value of houses.

The article describes how many current economists put all their faith in the rationality of people with their money. If this were the case, people would not gamble in casinos where their expected return value is obviously lower than the money they spend (or else you wouldn't see billion dollar casinos flourishing in Las Vegas). The business model of casinos basically boils down to being flashy and letting people come hand you money and you just give back some of it randomly.

The total rationality of people with their money is clearly false. People are subjective creatures and all decisions we make are subjective. Given this, it's easy to see how people would be swayed by these conventional wisdoms that the housing market is a good, stable investment and would consequently over invest in it.

Economists re-evaluate their economic models on a more realistic model where people are somewhat irrational creatures that are not all equally adept with their money. Psychology should be core coursework when studying economics.

Friday, September 4, 2009

People Are Way Too Outraged About Obama's Speech To Students

Conservative parents fearing some mysterious socialist propaganda in Obama's upcoming speech to students are pretty much hypocritical and paranoid. Where have they been protecting our schools from propaganda all these years? They should be protesting the religious bits in our pledge of allegiance. Talk about brainwashing! That "under God" line is intended to be recited by all students daily?

Let's get that daily, religious brainwashing stuff out of our classrooms first before we worry about keeping the president from encouraging kids to stay in school in a speech that has not even happened again and will not be repeated daily in classrooms. Everyone should fight for freedom of religion and separation of church and state.

These rabid anti-Obama people are completely irrational hypocrites.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Capital Punishment

I honestly don't find capital punishment to be wrong in principle. I just doubt its effectiveness as a deterrent. Its implementation is flawed to the point that it seems like a bad idea. It's more expensive to execute a prisoner than to keep him in prison for the rest of his life due to all the legal fees involved in death row.

Today, I read this account of how Cameron Todd Willingham was sentenced to death and executed based on questionable circumstantial evidence, inconsistent testimony of other people, and other such uncertainties. He might have been spared, but the review board was arbitrarily unwilling to consider new evidence, etc.

Executing an innocent person is absolutely intolerable. The review board members should be put on trial for manslaughter. This case should be thoroughly investigated and capital punishment should be suspended at least until the system has been properly audited.