October 30, 2006

Monday distraction inventory

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at October 30, 2006 3:45 PM

This week's distractions (projected):

  • War of the Flowers by Tad Williams.
  • The two envelope paradox.
  • Halloween (and the necessary preparations).
  • Obnoxiously loud mechanical pumps.
  • Skill at board games as a function of alcohol consumption.

I'm finally done with Valkyrie Profile 2, which has dominated this list for the last few weeks.

Tags: Life

I really enjoyed _War of the Flowers_. It's well-written, and is one of the few Tad Williams books that isn't part of a series...

Posted by: Jonathan | October 30, 2006 9:22 PM

Yeah, I like that it's a standalone novel; I never got around to reading the last book of Otherland, mostly because I passed the point where I'd have to reread the entire series to remember the background (and my copies of the books are inconveniently in Texas). Someday...

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 30, 2006 9:48 PM

The two envelope paradox is an example of how pure logic can make a person extremely stupid, and why I maintain that all but basic math is unnecessary in daily life. Anyone can tell you there is an exactly 50% chance of picking the envelope with more money, and as they are indistiguishable it makes no sense to do anything but just pick one.

Or, as Laura puts it, maybe it's just the mathmatical definition of hemming and hawing.

Posted by: Chris L-S | October 31, 2006 10:02 AM

Well, it's a problem for decision theory, but I think it's more of a "decision theory fails in certain contrived and unrealistic scenarios" problem than a "decision theory is hopelessly broken" problem. Also, towards the end of the Wikipedia entry on the subject, there's a statement of the problem that does use only basic math.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | October 31, 2006 12:22 PM

Let me respond to the line, "I maintain that all but basic math is unnecessary in daily life."

First, what do you consider part of "basic math?"

Second, what do you consider part of "everyday life?"

(Obviously, let's ignore the "everyday life" of people like me who do lots of math for a living...)

My first inclination is to violently disagree with you, but let me first see what you have in mind with your terminology.

Also, I definitely beg to differ with the wikipedia entry as to what constitutes the "hardest" problem. One should be able to quantize the situation and get an entanglement problem that's harder.

Posted by: Mason | October 31, 2006 8:32 PM
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