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28 April 2005

Sleazy Judges

Goodness me. Federal Magistrate Rolf Driver (herein know as Judge Sleaze) ruled that it was acceptable for an employer to demand one of his workers wear a mini-skirt at work. That's pretty scary. I wouldn't have thought that would even need to be debated. Does it sometimes feel as though things are going backwards?

Sydney Morning Herald

25 April 2005

The Sky is Great

If I could be an athlete I would become a professional dancer and I would run to everywhere I want to go. The Sky is Gorgeous

I like her. She reminds me of Haley.

20 April 2005

Stats are for Nancy Boys

I love econometrics. It's so much fun. And so clever. And incredibly useful. I think I like it more than accounting maybe. There are so many things I want to do with it now. It's so tops at explaining what you can do with stats and why. And what you can't do. It's great to find out all these things you can do. And helpful to know that some things you just can't.

The theory behind it blows my mind. There are all these different shapes (distributions) that explain how various statistical measures vary in practice. I think it's just groovy that these nice elegant curves are embedded in nature and everything. If you drew a chi-squared or F-distribution, and sent it to an alien species, there's a good chance they'd know exactly what you were talking about. It's just brilliant. And from there you could use the ratios to explain decimals and basic maths. All without using a proper language I reckon. The proofs too are so elegant. They make me really jealous of the clever folk who did them. It's all beautiful. I can understand why dad has some much fun with it. You don't have to be nearly as smart or nerdy as I thought - although some may think I sound a little nerdy. But honestly, you should try it. It's very edifying.

I'm thinking about starting a wireless internet business, and every time I sit down to do econometrics homework it gives me ideas for ways I could make the business work better. There is so much good, cheap, effective technology out there now and people aren't really using it. It's actually not good. I was momentarily tempted to drop uni for a year, and go try start that business. Financing would be the only major problem. Which is really the main reason I couldn't do it while I was at university. I'd have to have another job at first to help pay for some initial research and software development. But it would be so much fun. I'd need a partner too though, and I can't think of anyone that would want to. Trying to think about the sort of person who might make a good partner has made me realise how useful accounting skills are. I think that would almost be at the top of the list.

Sadly, starting a business wouldn't get me any closer to saving the world. And saving the world is the reason I'm really at university. If it was just about the money, it might be different.

Decisions are transactions too

I was chatting with Libby last night about how humans are "lazy". We go to great lengths to develop systems of thought and decision-making that reduce or eliminate the need for reprocessing. Libby suggested that some people were particularly prone to do this. I was suggesting that Libby (and all people) still had more in common with the most dogmatically unthinking, than there are differences. In their influence on our day to day lives, it's our shared assumptions, rather than our unique assumptions that tend to count.

One of the things I think makes humans so successful is their ability to develop crude simplifications that serve to reduce a lot of thinking. It means we spend less of our lives analysing, and we can make decisions more rapidly - both of which are critical in sustaining the sort of existence we lead. In other words, we make rules which minimise transaction costs. One of the transaction costs of making a decision, is the time and energy expended in obtaining better than neutral outcomes from a choice. Our ability to abstract and generalise, rapidly reduces these transactions costs, at the expense of (you'd presume) slightly worse average outcomes. But the point is that transactions costs are significant, the best choice isn't necessarily the one you should try to find and, most importantly, humans are very good at working out where the optimal trade-off is.

Economic theory ignores this almost entirely. It's a subset of the failure of economic theory to remember that its theories are incredibly imprecise. It knows this is true, and acknowledges it, but then often forgets. Elegance of thought tries to spackle over the messiness of reality. Which isn't a new idea, but it's mostly vocalised by people who don't like economics at all. And it's thoroughyl ignored. Most of our government's economic decisions are based on models which proudly ignore any variable too difficult to measure.

There's strong precedent for the idea that value-based decisions are more effective than decisions based on fundamental analysis. Not only do value-based decisions leverage the value of a long-term outlook, but it reduces transaction costs.

I don't really feel like I've explained that very well. The idea I had kind of got lost in the same old complaints about economics.

13 April 2005

Lousy Ageing Population “Crisis”

I've been saying for who knows how long that there is no ageing population crisis. If anything the situation is better when an ageing population. Assuming people work longer. Which is what this Economist article is saying. Except I don't see why it's a big deal ethically. The baby boomers have had a pretty good run - a whole lot of a tax money, and nobody much to spend it on except themselves.

Debt threat; Ageing and public finances The most vital reform is to extend working lives. According to Ms Queisser, the report shows that there is only limited scope to whittle away future pensions: the way forward is to raise the age at which they start to be paid. Few people like the idea of retiring later, but it may be essential to prevent the ageing of populations from wrecking public finances.

And yes, I am in the middle of an essay.

1 April 2005

Support

I just stopped my donations to MSF and Opportunity International. It really sucks because I like them both so much. I can't afford to do it anymore, but it feels like crap.

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