If you have a dog, click through for the best The Oatmeal yet …
Every once in a while I kick him underfoot and he apologizes to me. [emphasis added]
I showed this to the vXkids the other day, and they are still talking about it. Last night at the vXgirls soccer game, a small dog on a leash barked maniacally at the other teams coach, and the vXboy said matter-of-factly “he must think she’s a horsebeast”.
Would you eat 2 day old sushi? How about a 9 month old Mallo Cup?
When you think about whether a leftover is safe to eat, you’re mentally doing the same discounting calculation done in basic finance classes.
An interesting example of this came up yesterday.
I eat just about anything. My friend does not.
So, my friend offers to split a Mallo-Cup. A Mallo-Cup that was shipped from an internet site about 9 months ago. The bit of wrapper that was impregnated in the chocolate added depth. My friend then declined to not eat “sushi” — in quotes because it contained no raw ingredients — because it had been made fresh about 42 hours previously.
Afterwards, I wondered which was safer … and if there’s a bit of rationality paradox here. Because, when you think about it, we rarely think about how to discount packaged candy. There’s lot of apocryphal stories about people saving leftover candy from one Halloween to the next, right? But, we always think about discounting leftover sushi, even if it’s cooked.
Now, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t normally eat 2 day old sushi no matter how well it’s cooked, but I did. I’d like to think I’d never eat 3 day old sushi ... but frankly, I’ve never been tested on that count. So, what’s the appropriate discount rate? I’d say perhaps 20% per day.
What that means is that if I valued the sushi when made at $10, that it was worth $6.40 to me after 2 days, because I took 20% off its value, twice.
Value of Sushi
If you’d put less value on 2 day old sushi, this just means you have a higher discount rate.
But, for the moment, let’s take that 20% discount rate seriously. And, let’s take the method — called exponential discounting — seriously too.
Just to ballpark that, a 20% daily discount rate for 2 days gets you to the same present value as a 0.165% daily rate applied for 270 days (9 months). So, $10 worth of 9 month old Mallo Cups would have the same value as $10 worth of 2 day old sushi if discounted at that lower rate.
What’s really interesting is the present values that such a discount rate implies for really old Mallo Cups. For example, it then takes 420 days for them to lose half their value. Going further:
Value of Mallo Cups
I probably wouldn’t eat a Mallo Cup that’s almost 4 years old. But the calculations show that they’d still have positive value … so someone probably would eat them.
I’d go further and claim that most people would put a higher value on a 9 month old Mallo Cup than is shown in the table. If that’s the case, they’d put value on them for far, far longer than shown here.
All of this makes me think that perhaps with leftovers, we don’t use exponential discounting (as shown in textbooks) but rather hyperbolic discounting. In this form, we initially discount things very rapidly, and then more slowly after that.
So, for (even cooked) “sushi”, we discount very heavily for the first few days, so that perhaps the “sushi” has almost no value after 3 days. After that, we discount more normally, but from such a heavily discounted starting point that the value is always minute.
Alternatively, we might discount Mallo Cups hyperbolically, but those first few steps aren’t that large. This makes some sense. Think about how hard it is to resist the candy on the counter that you just bought, and how much easier it can be if it sits there for a few days. Perhaps this is because you’ve mentally discounted it a bit.
There’s another feature here that makes me think that hyperbolic discounting is the norm for leftovers. Do you really have any idea how old the packaged food you bought is? I mean, yes, it may have a freshness date on it, but those are mostly for store use, not personal use. And no one ever asks when that freshness date was actually applied. Especially on something like candy.
A brand new comet has been discovered diving in for what may be its first and brightest pass around the sun:
"In the best case, the comet is big, bright, and skirts the sun next November. It would be extremely bright -- negative magnitudes maybe -- and naked-eye visible for observers in the Northern Hemisphere for at least a couple of months."
… If the idea is to teach white and Asian students that they ought not to assume that African Americans and Latinos are less academically qualified than they are, then the last thing schools should be doing is creating an environment in which white and Asian students are systematically exposed to black and Latino students who are less academically qualified than they are.
A friend who is a minister once used the phrase "the canon of scripture is closed" to describe how his faith differed from Mormons. I thought his wording was particularly powerful, and it stuck with me. Mormons are very different: they believe that God still can and does speak directly on occasion. In short, traditional Christians have more fixed doctrine, while Mormons have a more fluid and evolving one.
Anyway, the traditional Christian idea that revelation no longer happens is analogous to how conservatives think about the Constitution and the Supreme Court. But, the Mormon view that revelation is continuous is analogous to the contemporary liberal viewpoint that Constitutional law is fluid and should change with the times.
Here's the kicker. Contemporary liberals find the Mormon idea that doctrine is editable bizarre, but think nothing of the idea that society can edit Constitutional interpretation as it sees fit. On the other hand, (typically Conservative) Mormons have a faith whose doctrine has evolved through time, but tend to be Constitutional strict constructionists.
This all strikes me as very odd. It's kind of like the observation that those who favor abortion tend to disfavor the death penalty, and vice versa.
… One thing to which I’ve become rather sensitive in that time is which prejudices New Yorkers are permitted to express in public. Among my horribly overeducated and hugely liberal friends, expressions of racism are completely out of the question, Islamophobia is greeted with a slow shaking of the head and anti-Semitism is a memory associated with distant places that one sometimes visits — like France.
But anti-Mormonism is another matter. It’s really fine to say totally uninformed things about Mormonism in public, at dinner parties or wherever. … This is a casual prejudice [emphasis original]
… After about 45 seconds, sometimes less, it becomes apparent that the prejudice is based on sheer ignorance of the peculiar splendors of Mormon theology. “They are all Republicans anyway,” they add in conclusion, “I mean, just look at that Mitbot Romney. He’s an alien.” As an alien myself, I find this thoughtless anti-Mormon sentiment a little bewildering.
As a non-Mormon living in a heavily Mormon part of Utah, I can confirm that this distasteful behavior if very common here too.
It’s a very hard thing to deal with this politically too: as a conservative who is wholly unconvinced that Romney is the right way to go, I live surrounded by Mormons who are sure he must be, and non-Mormons who are sure he can’t be out of no reason deeper than prejudice.
Mormonism is properly and powerfully post-Christian, as Islam is post-Christian. Where Islam, which also has a prophet, claims the transcendence of God, Mormonism makes God radically immanent. Where Islam unifies all creatures under one mighty God to whom we must submit, Mormonism pluralizes divinity, making it an immanent, corporeal matter and making God a more fragile, hemmed-in and finite being … [the use of immanent is not a typo]
Yet unlike Islam, for whom Muhammad is the last prophet, Mormonism allows for continuing revelation …
… To claim that it is simply Christian is to fail to grasp its theological, poetic and political audacity. It is much more than mere Christianity. Why are Mormons so keen to conceal their pearl of the greatest price? Why is no one really talking about this? In the context of you-know-who’s presidential bid, people appear to be endlessly talking about Mormonism, but its true theological challenge is entirely absent from the discussion.
That’s from the end, but this snippet is from the middle:
Thereby hangs a story. Because of my convivial contact with these philosophers from B.Y.U., I was invited in 1994 to give a series of lectures…
Things went pretty well. But right at the end of the final lecture, something peculiar happened. A member of the audience asked me a question. He said, “What you have been telling us this week about romanticism and the death of God where religion becomes art is premised on a certain understanding of God, namely that God is unitary and infinite. Would you agree?” “Sure,” I said, “At least two of the predicates of the divinity are that he/she/it is unitary and infinite.” Gosh, I was smart back then. “But what if,” he went on, “God were plural and finite?”
There you have it. Is the prejudice of liberals (who are often non-believers) based in the very core, ancient, Middle-Eastern, and monotheistic belief in God rather than god? Maybe
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