Showing posts with label comedy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comedy. Show all posts

Friday, February 5, 2021

One-Two Punch, or . . .

. . . How to go down for the count.

Let's make a boxing analogy for "appropriate" humor: Know your sparring partner; know when it is the real match; there are rules (no below the belt, but the belt moves); stay in your weight class. 

I post this in reflection upon the recent blow up of a comedic tweet by Niskanen Center's now former vice president Will Wilkinson. 

As one who has always been very comedic, I both identify with and fear hitting below the belt. I’ve done it, and I have fortunately always been forgiven when it mattered. I also identify with and fear what got Wilkinson into trouble--not knowing when it was a real match. In other words making a joke in the "wrong" way at the "wrong" time. I use the scare quotes because I've never been big on this concept. It is "wrong" because you the audience (intended audience or accidental audience) didn't like it. 

I am ambivalent on the idea that an honest attempt at humor is wrong. I don't want to offend people, but I know it will have to happen from time to time as both a risk of comedy (and serious argument) and because everyone at one time or another is overly sensitive (or hears things the wrong way). In truth I agree with Scott Sumner that there are no offensive jokes. So my views are simultaneously: I am sorry you have taken offense and Too. Fucking. Bad. 

To one degree or another grown-up comedy (not necessarily “adult” but certainly mature in the sense of developed and sophisticated) makes the audience uncomfortable. The other elements of comedy (surprise and irreverence) are at play here too in that comedy has to push boundaries or it is too childish to be considered “grown up”.

Time and place are tricky, though. Elon Musk has been very active on Twitter either joking or promoting (or both) the GameStop, et al. and Dogecoin trades. Is he humorously trolling? Should he be? 

This is a thorny issue. He uses Twitter to promote serious ideas including his public company. People look to him as an authority figure. We know we lose context and tone in email. That shortcoming is often taken too eleven when on Twitter. Maybe what he is doing is going over my head, and I should see rule #3 below. Regardless, he is an adult speaking to adults . . . yes, rule #3 indeed.

A healthy society allows mistakes. Actually it embraces them knowing they are a cost of progress. If a comedian cannot bomb, he cannot ever entertain. 

Here are two rules we as the audience should follow:
  1. Assume good intent.
  2. Accept sincere apology.
  3. When offended, get over it. - if for no other reason, your own happiness
So back to Wilkinson. His comedic attempt was ruled a mistake by Niskanen who didn't accept apology. We don't live in a world where my rules above are followed. Rather we live in what Arnold Kling calls a Zero Tolerance Culture. And as Jason Brennan perfectly points out, this is a cancel culture with glaring hypocrisy. 

Knock knock
Who's there?
Boo who?
Why you cryin'? It's just a joke.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Highly Linkable

Let's begin with a few on immigration (I've been saving these; hence, the late dates on some):
Alex Tabarrok made the case for completely open borders in The Atlantic.
Bryan Caplan continues to fight the good fight. Here are some points he didn't have an opportunity to make at a workshop but did get to share with us, fortunately. And don't miss his speech at the Open Borders Meetup. 
Found this advice on idling cars in the cold helpful and attractively counterintuitive.

Let me take a moment to sing the praises of Comedy Central's "Drunk History". If you haven't watched it yet, start now before finishing this sentence . . . too late. I can think of three ways it is awesome:

  1. It is a better way to learn history than traditional approaches because you remember and enjoy it; therefore, you stick with it longer. In that sense learning is a lot like exercise--the best method is the one you will stick with and the one that will stick with you. 
  2. It tells stories that our traditional, state-driven history instruction won't tell. 
  3. While it is uproariously hilarious to listen to the various drunk narrators describing history, it is also a pretty insightful take on history in a meta sense. Namely, history is vague and uncertain. We should be careful not to be too confident that we've got it figured out precisely.
Tyler Cowen's interview with Chris Asness is extremely rewarding. A few of the money quotes:
"There’s no investment process so good that there’s not a fee high enough that can’t make it bad."
"High frequency trading [which he doesn't engage in] has made the world more just and fair, particularly for small investors."
"This is not Lake Wobegon. We can’t all beat the index. It’s actually a precise mathematical identity."
On superheros: "Even the most insane billionaire cannot afford a hundredth of what frigging Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne have. It’s infuriating. ... I’ve done well. I’m not the most insane out there. But if I wanted to go build a Batcave at my house, it would take approximately 600 times my wealth, and everyone would know about it."
Speaking of rewarding, George Will always delivers as he does here on Michael Bloomberg's potential entry into the presidential election.

And lastly, Scott Sumner on economists who lack an imagination. (I agree in all four cases, and there is no contradiction between that and my other strongly held views.)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Partial Compilation of the Wisdom of Max

As originally posted to Facebook (most recent first) over the past year and a half with slight edits for clarity, I give you

The Wisdom of Max

Me: "Max, put on your jammies."
Max: "I don't want to wear jammies."
Me: "Look, I'm wearing jammies."
Max: "No you're not! Jammies have airplanes and stuff on them. You're just wearing regular clothes!"

Max: "Do you know why they call them black widows [pronounced 'weiddos']? Because they are so weird looking."

Max: "It's really easy to kill zombies. You just get a sword and hit them a bunch. It's pretty fun." Who says Minecraft doesn't teach you anything.

Max: "Birthday parties are gooder than everyphrang because ... Getting older ... sigh..."

Max: "Old people are lucky. They can't go to jail. Guess why. Because they forget so much."

[from April] "It's chalk and water. When I asked him what he was doing he said, 'MOM, I'm sciencing.' Well, I guess I can't argue with science."

Max referring to a friend at preschool: "Heston's not really a bully. He's just kinda the boss."

I'll be vague to protect the innocent, but Max's quote was good: "Mom, tell your friend next time to NOT put nuts in the chocolate chip cookies."

In this photo we see Max explaining that "the inside of a bean has seeds that are like bullets. If you break it open and put them in a straw, you can fire them like bullets." Thank you, Papa, for that helpful bit of knowledge.

Max thinks this bird poop on the car window is cool because it looks like a rocket ship.

Max is at a friends birthday party. A few of his observations:
     "I can never trust a hot dog."
     "My real name is Max, but in your gang my name is Zane."

He's been working in this all morning running around fretting, "I don't know if this will work..."
It is an "Opathenator". He told me what it does, but it is too complex for me to summarize in a Facebook post. (notice the use of a laser)

(At Victoria's The Pasta Shop) Max said, "Bring me all the lemons."

Max wants everyone to know he had three dreams last night (2 bad and 1 good): 
  1. We as a family were going on a train ride and he fell in the river. 
  2. He was being chased by dragons and one ate him. 
  3. A jet landed right by our garage (this was the good one. He said I would like it and maybe I'll have it sometime). 
     He then said, "Dreams are like listening to music with headphones only without headphones."

Max: "If you put honey all over [which he pronounces as 'O-er'] your yard, you'd have ants EVERYWHERE!"

Max: "I AM happy. I'm just not acting happy."

Max: "Guess what whiskers are for."
Me: "What?"
Max: "To shave."
Walked right into that one. But he continue, "They actually are just to give you something fun to shave."

Max: "If you tell somebody you went potty, but you didn't, and you don't tell them the truth, it's a lie. . . . 
I thought of that all by myself. That's what I do. I think of interesting things."

Laying down with Max while was going to sleep and me thinking from the long silence that he was, he raised up to say, "If I had some hot macaroni and there were ants nearby, I'd put it on the ants so they would die. Ice would work too."

Today Max and Elise went to the Myriad Botanical Gardens. Max said, "Mom, I have to ask you something. Can I pick these flowers? Can I take these flowers home?"
April replied, "No, you cannot."
Max said, "Okay, I just had to ask."

So Max was drawing with Eva today. He drew this guy in the middle and said, "that's a vampire." 
Eva asked, "How do you know what a vampire is?" He answered, "A vampire is just a naked zombie." And .... now I will have nightmares.

Max: "I wish I was three! Everything was easy when I was three. But in a while I'll be five, and that will be so cool!"

[from Nana]: While keeping Eva, Max and Elise this weekend, I gave Max and Elise both orange popsicles. Max quickly ate half of his then set it in his plate. Elise laid hers which was barely touched down immediately and grabbed his.
Max: "Hey! That's mine!"
Me: "That's okay just take hers she had barely touched it."
Max: "It might have germs, she licked it."
Me: "But Max she's your sister you don't care if you eat after your sister do you?"
Max: "No, not now that she is in our family."
Me: "Well she has always been in your family, she has the same Mommy and Daddy as you, remember when she was born?"
Max: "Yes, but when we first got her we didn't eat after her or anything for a while until we finally let her be in our family."
Guess it is one of those exclusive families that only accepts the best...

Max: "Papa, sometimes people think things that aren't true, but they don't know."

More from Max: "Some times things are funny, [shakes his head] but people don't laugh."
"You know bad words? You can learn good things from bad words."

Max: "Daddy, does it frustrate you that the house is taller than you."
Me: "no, not really."
Max: "But it's frustrating when things are taller than you."
Later . . .
Max: "My favorite thing to do today is to watch Eva while she plays. That bothers her. I like distracting her."

As I was grinding coffee this morning, Max said, "If you run out of concrete you can use coffee but it is really hard to do. REALLY HARD! You have to add boiling water and wait a long time."

Max: "David Graybill [his 6'4" cousin] couldn't take a bath. He is too tall. Do you know why David grew so tall? Let me tell you. Some people grow wide [he stands with his legs apart and arms lifted out to demonstrate]. But David grew long [he stands tightly together very straight like a pencil]. It happens at night. You don't notice because it is at night. But it happens."

Max: "If Superman was a real person, he'd be made of steel. But his cape wouldn't. His cape would be made of red cape stuff."

April: "I'm sending you kids to boarding school for the summer. I can't take the fighting."
Max: "I don't want to go to boring school. I don't want to ever go to boring school. I like my house."

[at Pi on the Plaza District] Max walked up to this sign and said, "What is my imagination saying?"

Elise is watching Sesame Street. Max can't figure out for the life of him what this is.

Max: "Dreams are important. They are good for you--even bad dreams."

Playing with Eva, Max said, "Remember what we did a long, long, long time ago, before today ..?" The rest isn't important. The specification that three long times ago is "before today" was the interesting part.

[from Nana]: Last night we gave our grandson Max (age 4 1/2 yrs.) a lava rock we found in the desert on our trip to Yuma. I said, "We picked up this lava rock for you in the desert. It is from a real volcano." His eyes got a look of excitement and alarm and he took it from me the way a person would take the surprise gift of a million dollars. "Wow" he said, "WHERE DID YOU GET THIS?" I told him we found it in the desert. He continued, "I mean, HOW DID YOU PICK IT UP? IT HAD TO BE BURNING HOT!"

Max today: "Robots were invented in the olden days to help people catch rabbits and chickens." I think he's watching too much Looney Tunes.

Max is focused in school work and focused in his Martial Arts.

Max from the shower: "Elise doesn't have boy parts! Where are her boy parts! She is like a cow. Milk comes out of there." How is he just noticing this?

Max explaining: "... And then a BIG giant ball of fire came down and there was fire everywhere and it killed all the dinosaurs. Then the scientists buried them, and then there were people who grew up, but first the scientists so they could bury the dinosaurs..." He drifted off as his non-sequitur became apparent.

Seems like he'd make a good pet owner.

So what do you do when you're playing hide-n-go seek, you are winning (not able to be found), and you have to go to the bathroom? Champions, like Max, apparently stay in place and pee their pants. ‪#‎commitment‬‪ #‎WhatChampionsDo‬

Eva has two friends over for a sleepover.
Me: "Max, let's get out of Eva's room and let the girls play."
Max: "No way! I wanna party with them!"

Max: "We talk about vinegar at school. You can drink it but it seems really bad but it is good for your bones."

Max relaxing in his new blanket-fort-house. There is a 20-foot "secret entrance" that runs behind the kitchen and around the side. It's really cool.

Max is showing Elise Minecraft. He is sad because in the zoo he built the piranha has jumped out of its pond and is going to die.

In another conversation, Me: "You need to get to sleep. It's a school night." Max's sharp reply: "I don't go to school at night!"

Max: "Your pants would be really stinky if you had cheese in them for a really long time." I am now checking all his clothing.

[from Nana]: Babysitting Max age 4 1/2 yesterday he told the dolls, "daddy has to go to work to buy food for your or else you will starve to death and Daddy will go to jail." then he looks up for a second and considers that thought, "well maybe I wont go to jail, then he continues, yes Daddy would go to jail."

April is taking Eva to the OKC Philharmonic tonight to see Sarah Chang play violin. I was telling her that a lot of people will be dressed very fancy tonight. Max said, "I don't like fancy." "What do you like?" I asked. "Cool," he replied.

At the end of her workout yesterday, April was out of breath and Max said, "Mom! When you are out of breath you have to go outside and eat some air or you might pass out!"

Max: "Flowers make nectar in their tummies like we make poop. And bees making honey. Lots of animals make things for us..." It went on from there for some time. Chickens are his favorite animal.

Max says: "You don't want the hedgehog to see his shadow - then there will be 1000 more days until fall comes."

So, Max pulled one of my books off the shelf and asked what it was about. It was Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe", and it was opened to a diagram about relativity. He is now running through the house attempting to go fast enough to time travel. He didn't understand when I told him that if he does, I won't be able to tell.

Now this is a bubble bath.

Max: "Today at school I saw where you get Bible'd."
Me: "What?"
Max: "Bible'd!" [this actually went back and forth several times with him getting VERY insistent]
Me: "What do you mean?"
Max: "You know, with the big bathtub."
Me: "Oh, baptized."
Max: "Xactly! Daddy, have you ever been Bible'd?"
I didn't know how to answer.

Eva is at a birthday party next door that is "girls only". There is an age factor too, but that isn't something he could understand. Max: "Mom, for my birthday send a note to every girl in the whole wide world, 'No girls allowed!'"

Max: "Don't forget to set up the Montana Fire tonight in my room."
April: "What do you mean?"
Max: "You know, the thing that blows air in my face."
April: "Oh - the humidifier."

Max: "When we left on our trips, I worry about my toys and our house. What if somebody broke in and put a bomb in it. That would be crazy! I'd punch the bad guys in the tummy."

Max at Whole Foods whispering to April: "Mom, mom. I want to say that lady looks freaky, but that would hurt her feelings."

Max (in a Darth Vader voice): "Luke, I am your father . . . Son, and Holy Spirit." He might be confused.

Just after closing the door as the last of the cousins left from Christmas; Max: "Daddy, sometimes when I'm telling people goodbye, it makes me really sad."

Max: "Why did Nana make her Thanksgiving chicken on Christmas?"

He's loving his new swing set. Don't tell him it's too cold!

Max: "Did you know that you can see pictures of things in your brain? I'm looking at cool pictures right now. Can you see them?"

One of Max's rules seems to be to always stay in character.

One of his last thoughts before finally going to sleep brought Max rising straight up to ask, "What is faster a duck or a monster?" I knew immediately there is no correct answer I could give to this question as judged by him. Fortunately, he let me know, "I think a duck is faster running and flying."

Max is glad to be done practicing his Christmas program at preschool, "It was very disruptive to the day."

Max: "How did God create everything? Does he have a magic wand?"

"In Heaven can you fly? How? Do you say, 'I want to fly?' and you grow wings?" (With a concerned look.) "But I don't want to grow wings. I might just be saying, 'I want to fly'."

Max: "Elevators are pretty good places to pick your nose, but you shouldn't do it."

Upon learning what crab cakes really were Max said, "Crab cakes should be cupcakes shaped like little crabbies."

Max right now is jumping on the couch saying, "I love this night! It is like a birthday party!" Eva, watching MNF observed, "I just don't get some beer commercials. I like the one where he goes to the top of the mountain and pulls the beer out. I get that one."

Max: "Sometimes coaches look goofy."

Max: "Santa can't jump very high; he's a big dude."

Max is on a roll: "A giraffe could eat you." Me: "Well, no. Giraffes don't eat people." Max: "But if you had a leaf suit on they might."
Later: "Sometimes Santa comes into your house and looks around and if you have a bunch of toys he might only give you some and if you had a whole lot he'd leave you none."

Several from Max:
"Cows have to get the milk out of their skin or they will die."
"It is hard to pick your nose if it is sore but sometimes you have a big booger and if it is really big you need to wash your hands like ten times."
"If you didn't have a mouth you couldn't ask for candy if you were a little kid. That would be sad. "

Max: "Sometimes when you need to go pee-pee really bad someone talks to you and distracts you and you go pee-pee a little in your pants."

Max: "Papa, your neck looks like a turkey's."

Max: "It was easy for God to make aliens because they're so close to Heaven."

One of the byproducts of attending OU games is Max insisting we spend Sunday morning re-enacting the entire pregame in the backyard. I "get" to be the fans who have to stand up and clap and cheer at all the appropriate times. He is the players warming up, the announcer, the band, and the players running out of the locker room. The neighbors must love us.

[at the OU football game] Max: "What's a 'Hunnicutt'?" Me: "It means 'settling' and 'disappointment'."

At bath time.
Me: "I have to get your hair wet to wash your hair, Max."
Max: "NO! 'No' means no, daddy!"

Max: "Jesus has very good hearing."

Max's dream:
"A dinosaur was after me and 'Ah-Weece'. We hid under the table. He didn't kill us, but he zapped Mama."

Things I've learned this morning: Max, "In the world of donuts there are yeast donuts and cake donuts."

Max says, "Daddy doesn't wear a shirt when he mows - so neither am I"

Max gets Trick or Treat

Max was seriously concerned about his Sooners yesterday.

Wisdom from Max:
"A long time ago ghosts got into dinosaurs and thats why you don't see them any more."
"The beetles are the leaders of the bugs." Me: "Why?" Max: "Just because."

Max: "I'm a Wichita man. I'm from Wichita."
Homophone innocence.

"It's a glass of water." 100% his own idea and execution.

Max: "When you get old [elderly], you have to hear everything twice."

Max, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Daddy. Then I'll be able to go in the attic by myself." Apparently that is the measure of adulthood. He followed it with, "But I don't want to go into the attic." Quite the dilemma.

Max, "A magazine is a book you read when you go to the dentist."

[from Aunt Susie] A conversation between me and my 4yr old nephew:
Me: Max, I really like you
Max: I like me, too

Max reacts to eating a chocolate mouse

Max explained to me, "People call it a washcloth, but it's just a little towel."

April: "Max, please stop playing in the bathroom." Max, combing his hair: "I'm not playing, I'm being handsome."

April, "Max, is there anything you want from the store?"
Max, "Hmmm... Do they have gummies that look like bears?"
April, "When have you had Gummy Bears?"
With a confused look, Max, "Gummy Bears???"

Max just told me that Elmo was nice, but the dirty man was mean. I think he meant Oscar the Grouch.

Max's joke:
Max, "Mom, today at school I had a hand sandwich."
April, "No, you had a ham sandwich."
Max, "No, a hand sandwich. I ate it with my hand!"
"...I'm just kidding. It was peanut butter and jelly."

Max as the Flash (Flash wore an apron, right?)

Max was almost asleep when his eyes shot open with fear and regret as he worried, "I don't want Jesus to retire." Relax, he is not a prophet. Our priest, Father Boyer of St. Mark the Evangelist, is retiring tomorrow. Max is vague on what a priest is and completely unfamiliar with the concept of retirement.

Max plays Air Hockey

Mothers get accused of many things being their fault. This was a new one on April. Max: "Mommy! You broke my ideas."

Max says: "If God were not in the sky but was on the floor that would be cute because God is cool."

Not sure what this means. Max, "Let's pretend we don't have super powers."

Max to Elise: "I'm gonna squeeze the cutsy out of you." He said it in a sweet way, but it was still a little concerning.

Max's word of the day is 'sanitize': "Carrots are dirty. They have to be washed and sanitized."

Remember when finding a stick could make you happy?

Max sings Taylor Swift

Advice from Max: "It would be really hard to put lava in a water balloon, so don't even try it."

[at Easter] Max found an egg with money in it and said, "I'm gonna get all this money, then I can go to college, then I'll be rich forever!"

From the Wisdom of Max: Did you know that cheese makes you stop dying? Farmers put medicine in cheese.

Me from behind a closed door: "It's me, Baby Elise."
Max: "No it's not."
Me: "Oh yeah, it is."
Max: "You don't sound like Elise."
Me: "I changed my voice, I'm Elise."
Max: "If you Elise, pee your pants."
Checkmate Max.

April to me: "We need to start watching on Netflix 'Breaking Bad'."
Max with a distraught look on his face: "Oh no, can we fix it!?"

What I heard from the other room:
Max: "Eat this."
Max: "It's yucky.... Don't eat it."
I did not investigate. Some things are better left unknown.
From April: The first thing that Max said to me this morning was "I went to the grocery store by myself and I had cheese". I asked him if it was a dream. He said "yes and papa was there and there was a shark".

April: "This is the coolest morning ever - we saw a fire truck testing its ladder and we saw a hot air balloon."
Max: "And we saw beautiful trees and a beautiful baby and a beautiful you."

Some of Max's more interesting questions of the day (he has many everyday):
"How do things not break?"
"How is your head attached to your shoulders?"
"How long cents does a kite cost?" (Pretty sure he meant how 'many' cents).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Highly Linkable

We're back from an unintended hiatus. Let's begin with some jokes one might overhear in the Lambda^3 house. (HT: Mungowitz)

The world is spinning fast for the NCAA. Northwestern players, et al. can unionize because they have been ruled as employees. If this stands, this potentially changes everything. No apple cart is safe from tipping. Of course, the NCAA isn't hesitating one moment to provide comic relief as events unfold. But Jeffrey Kessler may get the last laugh.

Before we leave the sports realm, the Box Score Geeks want you to remember that the NBA is not McDonald's.

Scott Sumner reflects on what he has learned from Fama and Lucas.

The state will even license con men (and women). Apparently, there is indeed no end to state licensure. I'm sorry, what did you say about the current unemployment rate? . . .

Speaking of employment problems, perhaps your potential employer is agreeing with your current employer not to hire you away. I've witnessed this type gentlemen's agreement in a couple of different situations. Megan McArdle assumes the case against it while, I believe, making more strongly the case why it is not as simple as it would seem. There are complexities here that legislation with its good intentions and unintended consequences may undesirably unravel.

Mike Munger has completed his Mungerfesto with the fifth installment. I give the overall piece a B+. Simply refining the presentation would elevate it to A-. Giving a more thorough treatment to how this is largely a second-best but necessary approach to our world's political economy problems given that the first-best approach is unrealistic (I believe this is his argument of direction versus destination) would make it A+.

I look forward to reading the new book from Max Tegmark recommended by Steven Landsburg. It is always fun to read material completely over one's head. If nothing else, it offers a humility we all should seek.

Speaking of humility . . . wow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm Gonna Hire You As My Latex Salesman?

I recently returned to my MBA school as a volunteer helping conduct mock interviews. The interview process at the MBA level is fairly grueling. As such, programs hope to give their graduates every advantage which primarily comes from experience. Unlike most college graduates striking out with a bachelor's degree, MBA students generally have some professional experience and in some cases quite a bit. They are hard driven people who take the process seriously.

I was happy to accommodate. But unlike the position they found themselves, highly stressed, I was totally relaxed. They had just finished a final exam that day and were now facing a potential future employer who will both grade their performance and report back to the career services staff as to how capable I feel they are as a candidate which may affect the opportunities put in front of them. I gave an honest effort to put them through the paces and provide constructive feedback. They did very well--much better than I ever did when I went through the program.

Knowing what the process was going to be, this was my fourth time to conduct mock interviews, I thought wouldn't it be fun to give the candidates absurd questions to see how they handled them. They desperately want to succeed in the interview, which means giving a convincing and meaningful answer in a confident manner. I challenged myself and some drinking buddies to come up with the most ridiculous questions we could short of the truly offensive (that would be too easy). Here is the output of our creative effort. (Note: I did not actually use any of these questions in the mock interviews, but I kind of wish I had.)

Mock Interview Questions for MBA Candidates:

Pretend you are a salesperson and convince me to purchase your soul.

Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you.*

What is the most offensive question I could ask you?

As we go through the rest of this interview I would like for you to answer each of the questions alternating between a Queen's Standard English accent and a Cockney British accent.

Solve this puzzle: There are three strands of string of varying lengths each of a different color (red, blue, and yellow) in a sealed box. You can pull only two of the strands out to compare those two for length. There is a wise man who knows the lengths of all three, but you can only ask him two questions. The questions can only be answered yes or no and he lies every fourth time he is asked a question. You are in a long line of people asking him questions about many topics and you cannot hear the other questions but you can hear the answers. You have the option to make one cut of the strand you do not pull from the box to measure making it two pieces. Describe how you can definitely determine that the red strand is longest. You have 30 seconds. Go!

Would you rather be stranded on an island where after a couple months you eventually die or wrongfully imprisoned in a maximum security facility in a foreign country where you don't speak the language and you eventually die after 20 years?

Thinking about employee morale, which is definitively more appropriate: enjoyment or pleasure?

What are three reasons Mickey Mouse would be your ideal supervisor?

Could you fire your own mother if I promised you a small bonus to do it.

Fart for me just once.

If you were to put $1 into a vending machine to purchase a $.50 item and both the item and the change dropped down to separate bins at the same time, which would you pick up first and why? I expect a thorough answer.

How big a bubble can you blow?

Describe your first haircut.

Pantomime your favorite textbook.

Give me you most fake, fake laugh.

If you were an NFL player, what are three reasons you would resent and two reasons you would not resent Major League Baseball mascots.

What is your favorite shape and why isn't your favorite shape a triangle?

Describe your ideal workday that ends with you being fired.

Give me directions to a place you've never been and don't otherwise know where it is located.

Imagine you had a twin. Now convince me I should not hire your twin.

Name seven competitive advantages of toothpicks as compared to toothfaires.

If you were to add an eighth deadly sin, what would it be?

Give my shoes a backhanded compliment.

Why didn't you bring me a gift today?

*From Darth Plagueis 

Monday, February 4, 2013

I want to go to there.

This past week the sitcom "30 Rock" aired its final episode. I believe I saw every one. I'd rank it on my favorite list in the top 50 but not the top 10. I was a fan. Some thoughts:

  • Though I'm sorry to see it go, it had run its course. It is good to see a show end in stride rather than jump the shark. And of course some jump the shark, get up, and jump the shark again. Another show still on the air that comes to mind is "How I Met Your Mother". HIMYM is dangerously close to getting on a surfboard. It is also a show in my top 50 if not in my top 10. It definitely has had top 10 moments as did "30 Rock". Put in that same category "The Office". I still like it and watch it, but I believe the shark may have been jumped some time around the departure of Michael Scott.
  • While most of the shows I like tend to have multiple very good characters that nearly stand on their own, I felt like this show was dominated by two: Liz Lemon played by Tina Fey and Jack Donaghy played by Alec Baldwin. These characters were brilliant. Their lines were consistently laugh-out-loud funny and clever and their delivery was tremendous--not surprising given the quality of those actors. Tracy Morgan's character Tracy Jordan, Jane Krakowski's character Jenna Maroney, and Jack McBrayer's character Kenneth Parcell were at a few times awesome but at most times only good. Probably the design of the show to have them and so many others as extreme caricatures limited their reach. 
  • The extreme caricatures was fine for most characters, but I found it problematic in one respect. I thought that Jack Donaghy versus Liz Lemon was a bit of unequal caricatures. Jack was generally all knowing and a step ahead, but he was portrayed in a way that was less charitable to his supposed political group, rich Republicans, than Liz's supposed political group, progressive Democrats. Of course, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey are both rich Democrats. Perhaps the unbalanced approach was intentional. If so, I think it was unwarranted. But my hypothesis is this treatment where a more disdainful side comes out in one character is what I would expect if I asked a person not well versed in opposing viewpoints to create a satirical portrayal of two politically opposed characters. For a more thoughtful approach, I point to "Parks and Recreation" where the libertarian Ron Swanson is equally shown against the progressive Leslie Knope. These characters are truer to their represented group and the comedy and satirical exaggeration does not show contempt for either's group.
  • I was always impressed by how far they could go on the show toward satirizing if not denigrating GE and NBC. This was to the parent company and the network's extreme credit to allow such self-deprecating comedy. I believe FOX gets credit for breaking this barrier back in the early days of "The Simpsons".
Expect more on this topic of TV shows. It seems that many of my shows are ending and several are getting up there in age, but I have started very few in the past few seasons and none in the current season going back to the fall. Perhaps I will find more time to read . . . and blog.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some crazy scheme in order to make a profit

I want to boost traffic on this site. I know incentives work. Here is the plan:

  • I want all my readers to forward links to this blog.
  • To incentivize you please, inform everyone you send a link that they owe you $1. 
  • Also, inform them that they too are entitled to $1 for every link they send owed by the recipient of the link. 
  • It does not matter if the recipient has already received a link. In fact, that is an important part of building this network and realizing the fringe benefits.
This should create a fairly efficient Ponzi-like scheme by taking out the middle man. Based on my cursory reading of Keynesian economics, it should also boost 2013 GDP by at least 10% and bring us full employment in short order. From my cursory reading of rational expectations, just by publishing this post all the benefits should arise. From my cursory reading of monetarism, all U.S. dollar-based economies will soon be the next Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Signs (at Christmas) that you are a parent . . .

You measure the quality of the Christmas day by the following criteria:

  1. How late you could sleep in.
  2. How few batteries were required.
  3. How little assembly was needed.
  4. How little packaging needed to be removed (including those gawd-awful twist ties).
  5. How quickly you could pick up and put away all the loot. 
  6. How well received were all items especially as compared to any enjoyment derived from large, now empty boxes. 
  7. How soon school starts back up.
Update: 8. You actually think about toys and gifts considering the risk that you'll shoot your eye out.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two monkeys walk into the EEOC . . .

A friend sends me this link to a video of research done on Capuchin monkeys concerning payment for learned tasks. The essence of the video comes at the very humorous moment when one monkey discovers that the other monkey is being paid "unequally" for the same task. It is said that the first monkey is "rejecting" the "unequal" pay with the implication that you as a human should do the same. The caption/punchline below the video reads, "If monkeys reject unequal pay, shouldn't you?" We can't really assess from the brief video the meaningfulness of the research. This isn't about the Capuchin, Donnie. But we can comment on the implied call for pay equality and the rather pedestrian approach to the argument.

It would really be something if the second monkey rejected the "unequal" pay (actually getting a more desired grape instead of a less desired cucumber piece). Or if a third monkey went on a hunger strike in protest. The fact that the first monkey only realizes the visible grapes are actually available for payment after the second monkey attains one is impressive (or at least interesting--perhaps this says something about how little we expect of monkeys).  But it is only upon completing the task a second time and then not being awarded a grape that the protest begins. The first monkey didn't connect the "unequal" pay backward to the prior task--she didn't protest immediately upon seeing the second monkey get a grape. Maybe this is the truly remarkable part: The first monkey learned something about the market price for completing the task and appropriately raised her reservation raise.

Higher life forms (those who understand economics like this monkey) understand that the market is a discovery process. It isn't so simple to say what is or is not equal pay. The second monkey seems to get this too in that he doesn't feel ashamed for receiving "unequal" pay. In fact in the human world there are a number of reasons why two people apparently in the same situation presumably performing the same task would in fact receive different compensation. There is nothing inherently unjust or inefficient about it. To assume so is to beg the question about under what circumstances the difference arose.

It seems the first monkey not only understands economics but also understands property rights as well. By reserving her protest for higher wages until after completion of the task a second time, she makes clear that she doesn't believe she deserves the same deal the other monkey got. Rather she is just insisting and aggressively negotiating a new compensation package. She knows that a fair deal isn't "fair" simply and only because it is "equal" to another seemingly identical situation. It is fair if all parties to the deal agree to it freely without force, coercion, or fraud regardless of the comparable deal struck by other parties in another situation. While most monkeys have been diligently working themselves up from nothing into a state of extreme poverty, this one has been studying Locke not Marx.

Yes, I'm reading into this a little too deeply, but live by the exaggerated metaphor, die by the exaggerated metaphor.

If monkeys reject bad economics and faulty understanding of property rights, shouldn't you?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A little something for the readers

Just to prove this isn't all about me, I am announcing my intention to add something to every blog post. From now on I will try to incorporate a reference to a movie, usually a line of dialogue, in every blog post. I've already done this in at least a couple (there may be more, I do this so often and naturally in my everyday life that I lose track myself).

This should give you something to savor everyday. A reason for living perhaps. Or at least a reason to check in daily. Every time you find the reference, you win. Add the points up and keep track. At the end of the year you'll have a total. That total can be redeemed for merchandise in the Magnitude Matters general store (location and merchandise pending). You know, it's all about merchandising. Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made.

Yes, these references will be biased toward my taste in movies. So if you have bad taste in movies, you probably won't be cashing in for a set of steak knives at month end.