Some Things I Read Today

I didn’t read anything all that interesting yesterday, thus no “Some Things I Read Today” for yesterday. That’s a lie, actually. I’m reading A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, a collection of David Foster Wallace essays, and it’s quite interesting. It’s also much easier to read now that I figured out what “w/r/t” means. But I can’t link to a book, which is why there wasn’t this piece yesterday. I did read some interesting, linkable things today, so here they are:

For the record: The definition of insanity is not “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Look it up. There are a bunch of different definitions, but none of them are that.

I say the Mets should tender contracts to Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey, and that they shouldn’t trade David Wright. And you say, “well… that’s the definition of insanity.”

No. No. For one thing, it’s baseball. You’re not talking about controlled laboratory experiments, you’re talking about a sport dominated by randomness.

Ted Berg, “What We’ve Come To”

I have nothing to add to this. Not offering Angel Pagan and/or Mike Pelfrey a contract is a bad idea. Traiding David Wrong is a bad idea. They’re bad ideas. They’re interesting to talk about, in that they are moves which don’t actively cost the Mets money and are thus realistic for the present organization, given their money problems. But they’re still bad ideas.

Continuing with the theme of insanity:

It was the choice of a washing machine, however, that proved most vexing. European washing machines, [Steve] Jobs discovered, used less detergent and less water than their American counterparts, and were easier on the clothes. But they took twice as long to complete a washing cycle. What should the family do? As Jobs explained, “We spent some time in our family talking about what’s the trade-off we want to make. We ended up talking a lot about design, but also about the values of our family. Did we care most about getting our wash done in an hour versus an hour and a half? Or did we care most about our clothes feeling really soft and lasting longer? Did we care about using a quarter of the water? We spent about two weeks talking about this every night at the dinner table.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, “The Tweaker”
The New Yorker

What a crazy, crazy man. This article is really about the differences between tweakers and creators, and where Jobs falls into the spectrum. It’s fairly Gladwellian. But the best parts are about the crazy stuff Jobs did. Found this, again, via Give Me Something to Read, which you should all RSS.

Quiz time.

Plainly put, a “heuristic” is a tool we use to simplify the decision-making process. For example, if you’re driving in the United Kingdom for the first time and don’t know the traffic laws, heuristics might help you correctly assume that a green light means go and a red light means stop. By applying what you already know about driving in America, you won’t have to waste hours reading up on England’s traffic laws. However, that same heuristic could prove harmful if you start driving in the right-hand lane, against traffic . . . the questions in this quiz are designed to trigger System 1, which relies heavily on intuition to provide us with answers that we perceive to be correct. Whenever you find yourself “going with your gut,” that’s System 1—often standing in the way of rational thought. It’s no wonder that the word “heuristic” has its root in the word “eureka.” Go ahead and take this quiz, based (loosely) on Kahneman’s four decades of research; follow your gut and see just how wrong you are.

– Jaime Lalinde, “The Quiz Daniel Kahneman Wants You to Fail”
Vanity Fair

I got all of these right, actually, except for #3, which I could not answer — in other words, pretty much what you’d expect from a SABR-leaning blogger. I believe I saw this via Jonah Keri’s Twitter.


Filed under Words

2 responses to “Some Things I Read Today

  1. “trading” is misspelled.

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