Saturday, February 17, 2007

White Man's Burden....of Proof?

"It was just 85 years ago, in 1922, in the fascinating case of Rollins v.
Alabama, that a black man named Jim Rollins was tried and convicted for
'miscegenation'--the crime of having sex with a white woman. On appeal,
Rollins' conviction was overturned because the woman in question, Ms. Edith
LaBue, was a Sicilian immigrant, a fact that the court held could in no
sense be taken as conclusive that she was therefore a white
woman...Italians--like Irish, Jews, Poles, Greeks and now Hispanics and
others--have struggled in our history to achieve 'whiteness.'" [ABC]

The decision....

(nod to KL)

A Video for IT Folks Everywhere

My good friend Dr. P sends a video.

And as he describes it, it depicts his own relationship
with our own IT guru, Large Guns Man.

The video is very funny, throughout.

But the one section that is EXACTLY Dr. P (and I say this with love, and respect) is where the professor guy says, "You know, a scroll takes less time than all this 'turn the pages' stuff." Dr. P will always be a scroll guy in a Microsoft Vista world. Bless his heart.


The video itself is okay, I suppose.

But, looking at the associated ad, this claim is made:

" ordinary condom is a real pain in the butt. "

Perhaps, but surely that goes more to questions of sexual orientation, rather than convenience.

(Nod to the Mayor)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Toilet Seat Wars

This may have circulated widely already....

But I do want to share the link for this nice game theory analysis of toilet seat position.

It seems to me there are two costs left out here.

The first is the fact that if wife "Marsha" doesn't notice the seat is up, in the dark, in the middle of the night, she either sits on the cold porcelain (bad) or drops several inches into the water, with her legs sticking out in front of her (much worse). So, an asymmetry based on risk.

The second cost is the cost of "John" being celibate for at least a week if "Marsha" incurs the first cost, above. Forget "she yells at him." It's more like "she reminds John that she controls valuable easements, involving access."

(Nod to BN, who I'm sure always puts the toilet seat down. But then he sits down for #1, so it doesn't cost him much...)

UPDATE: lisalogic's comment is worth posting directly:

lisalogic said...
Very nice, the model might still be extended, though. Let's say, C(t) is constant, but D(t) is something like a mean-reverting process or else a poisson process (I call this the riposte model). How would the equilibrum behave in time, then?
Anyway, while it is logic to model a cooperative game and argue that one of the equilibrums is more efficient, and thus increases public welfare, it is not very much so for a non-cooperative game. As a woman would put it: "More welfare - for You".

Two good points there: design the game so it is in the male's advantage to choose the more globally efficient outcome. And, the dynamic properties of the game are interesting. If there is not a single equililbrium, what do we expect for the time path of behavior?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On Eating, and Having, and Talking Cakes

"New Mexico...has ordered 500 talking urinal cakes that will deliver a
recorded anti-DWI message to bar and restaurant patrons who make one last
pit stop before getting behind the wheel...The state spent $21 for each
talking urinal cake for the pilot program...The cakes have enough battery
power to last about three months." [AP]

For more...

A nice female voice gives you life advice when you urinate on her. I'm not sure....well, I'm just not sure.

Just think of all the good that Bill Richardson can do if he is elected President.

[Nod to KL: that is wonderful]

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grade Appeal

Interesting case in Boston. What recourse does a student have, if s/he disagrees with a grade? There are two things that seem impossible: 1. All grades are open to renegotiation, because of the threat of legal action. 2. There is no appeal, and the student has no recourse.

But if neither one of THOSE is right....then what is the answer?

By Julie Masis

BOSTON (Reuters) - A student is suing a Massachusetts university over what he says is an unfair grade in a philosophy course, saying it could kill his chances of entering law school.

Brian Marquis, 50, said on Wednesday that he filed the lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts last week after receiving a "C" instead of the "A minus" he had expected.

"Quite frankly, I find this utterly unacceptable," Marquis, who worked as a legal assistant before returning to college, said from the university in Amherst in western Massachusetts.

The teaching assistant redrew the grading scale "to make grades more representative of student performance", which turned Marquis's 92.1 percent points into 84 percent, which became a C, according to an e-mail by the teaching assistant.

At the university, an 84 percent score can produce a grade between "A-" to a "C" depending on the professor's preferences, according to the school newspaper, the Daily Collegian.

School officials declined to comment on the case.

Sheldon Steinbach, a former chief attorney for the American Council on Education, representing over 1,800 colleges for over three decades, said such cases are rare and the handful of students who have sued over grades typically lost in court.

(Nod to BN, who is, as always, Mr. Reasonable himself.)