Category Archives: Somewhere


Category: Somewhere

The student’s mother died last week. Her grandfather had died earlier this year. She has previously lost her father, and her only sibling. Her mother didn’t have life insurance, and she’s trying to figure out how to pay the funeral expenses.

I can’t comprehend what she’s going through. I can only stretch my imagination and recognize that I’m still coming up short.

She’s a tough kid, hard-working, motivated, an excellent student, and genuinely nice. She came back to school right away because it was easier than being all alone. And she’s the “I never ask for help” type.

So I asked her to come to my office so I could go over what she missed that one day–the only day she’s missed all term. And so I could talk to her, make sure she did have some support (two uncles, and her boyfriend’s family has “been great,” fortunately), let her know that I wasn’t concerned about whether she was on-time with the assignment inconveniently due today, and give her some “grown up” reassurance that her grief was normal and she shouldn’t feel guilty or stressed if it interfered with normal life for a while.

I didn’t tell her, but I’m going to work on getting donations from colleagues to help out with the funeral expenses.

But I’m an emotional wreck now.

Category: Somewhere
Category: Somewhere

1. Always write with absolute conviction; the internet is no place for doubt or uncertainty. The idiots on the other side may think you’re wrong, but your list of cherry-picked authorities verify your brilliance by their agreement with you.

2. Everything is a team issue. Ev–ree–thang. For example, 90% of conservatives who are not Indianapolis Colts fans think Tom Brady got a raw deal, and liberals are all pussies who don’t like sports anyway. Also, only liberals understand the pervasiveness of patriarchy, while 99% of conservatives think rape is a myth and have probably raped someone themselves.

3. Simplify. No issue is actually complex or hard to understand if you just leave out the inconvenient details and give it a meaningful structure like “3 Simple Tips for Being a Successful Internet Writer.”

Category: Somewhere

Sporting events are sub-optimally suspenseful, according to new economic research.

In the context of a mystery novel, these dynamics imply the following familiar plot structure. At each point in the book, the readers thinks that the weight of evidence suggests that the protagonist accused of murder is either guilty or innocent. But in any given chapter, there is a chance of a plot twist that reverses the reader’s beliefs. As the book continues along, plot twists become less likely but more dramatic.

In the context of sports, our results imply that most existing rules cannot be suspense-optimal. In soccer, for example, the probability that the leading team will win depends not only on the period of the game but also on whether it is a tight game or a blowout…

Optimal dynamics could be induced by the following set of rules. We declare the winner to be the last team to score. Moreover, scoring becomes more difficult as the game progresses (e.g., the goal shrinks over time). The former ensures that uncertainty declines over time while the latter generates a decreasing arrival rate of plot twists. (In this context, plot twists are lead changes.)

However in the context of the NBA’s playoff scheduling, “there is an equal amount of suspense and surprise in the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals … as in the 2-2-1-1-1 format of the earlier NBA playo rounds.” And in presidential primaries it doesn’t matter what order states go in–you can’t increase suspense by having smaller or more partisan states go first (a counter-intuitive finding, but they’ve got a mathematical proof that’s over my head, so it has to be true).

Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.

Category: Somewhere