Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speeding Metaphor

Dan and I were discussing the expected benefits and costs of speeding in terms of time. The benefit of speeding is your expected time of arrival is sooner and the difference increases as the distance travelled increases.

We agree that for short commutes, speeding only yields a slightly improved expected arrival time due to traffic lights. Short distance speeds only make a difference if the fast car makes the light and the slow car does not. The more lights between start and end reduce the effect of speeding on average.

For long distances with few traffic stops, say a 700 mile drive, travelling at 80 miles instead of 70 saves an hour and 15 minutes. However, if the speed limit is 70, there is some probability per mile that you will get a speeding ticket (given obedience to other traffic laws). If given a ticket, and the driver chooses to go to traffic school, he does not save any time. So the expected time saved is probablity of not getting a ticket, multiplied by the time saved, plus the probability of getting a ticket multiplied by the time lost (negative time saved of ticket process on the roadside and traffic school time).

Time saved and lost can be easily assumed, the probability of getting a ticket at a given speed is much harder.

Now for the metaphor: I have heard a metaphor (from traffic school) that was used to explain how flow of traffic is not a valid excuse for speeding. When everyone speeds, it is like the officer has a line in the water and all the fish are biting. He can catch plenty of speeders.

When applying this metaphor to the probability situation above, it is incomplete. A police officer may not be inclined to pull people over for going 5 over or 10 over. Why? He likely has bigger fish to fry. In other words, the speeders do not choose if they get tickets like a fish chooses to bite on the bait. The speeders only choose to swim in dangerous waters. The officer is the one who selects the fish. It is more like spear fishing.

So the faster you go, the higher the probability of getting a ticket is, but the more time you save. Also the flow of traffic does matter, because if you are consistently the biggest fish in dangerous water, you are more likely to get a ticket. This would make for a nice model with an optimum speed (or speed above traffic flow). There would have to be several parameters but I would guess optimal time saving speed is somewhere between 5 to 10 over the limit.

Speeding cameras would then be like nets. Any fish in the dangerous water is going to get scooped by the net.

Friday, June 5, 2009


If I were a waiter, I think I would get frustrated with people never being ready for the "Would you like anything to drink?" question. How many times have I eaten in a restaurant? This is ALWAYS the first question and yet, I am always caught off guard. I go straight to the main dishes thinking what I want to order for food.

Now, considering my attitude if I were a waiter, and analyzing the situation as a patron, I have decided that there is a systematic flaw present that would help the patron-me and the waiter-me if implemented. Put the drinks selection right at the front of the menu or in some automatically visible place. Why are the sodas, juices and milk selections always buried somewhere deep on the bottom in small font on the second to last page?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Restaurant Title

I was thinking about how delicious my sandwich was, but also how peculiar my tastes are as well. Growing up in a home with odd condiments always available (horseradish, 4 different kinds of mustard, mint jelly) I have learned to sample new ones now and again. Who puts spicy mustard and horseradish on their turkey sandwich? 

It was delicious but I do not think it would be for everyone. It seemed like a manly sandwich with some punch. So I want to make a restaurant called, "Real Man Food." The only milk there would be whole. No diet sodas. Lots of spicy stuff. Etc.  What are some manly menu items you can think of?

Which sounds like another good restaurant name, "Food Man, Chew!" And you could have a whole theme derived from the facial style.

Food Orientation

I have a theory about food orientation. I think foods taste slightly different, or I should say, the eating experience is slightly different based on the direction of intake.

For example, asparagus eaten leafy side first is different than stalk side first. I prefer leafy side first because it tastes more bitter, then the stalk is crunchy and does not leave the bitter after-taste. 

Another idea based on the first is multiple ingredient foods relative position. I find that a sandwich tastes different if you flip it upside-down and take a bite. The relative position of the layers creates a different experience.

In choirs, a good director will blend a SAT or B section  into a smooth gradient of vocal tone and sound quality. This helps the singers blend and match to create an overall more beautiful sound. I wonder if this analogy can apply to foods. Is there a most beautiful order to assemble then devour a sandwich?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Duke Boys

Do Luke and Bo have a hidden secret farm-base?

The wrecked a cop car every episode by evading the police. They are probably up for hundreds of moving violations, but somehow the Roscoe P. Coltrane never takes a warrant to the Duke home. Law enforcement is different these days. 

Global Warming

I recently blogged over to this page about global warming:

I found that while I agree with most of what he writes, the tone he wrote it in made me constantly fight what he was saying.  As I read I kept having to tell myself that I agree with his main(and just about only) point that increased carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere and that increased carbon dioxide leads to increased heat. In any case, this professor's arrogance really turned me off from his message and I kept trying to find holes in it. 

Some thoughts on global warming:

1. Most of the references I hear about global warming are anecdotal and therefore not extremely useful. 

2. Carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere and while there a lot of scientific research out there, I do not know of any conclusive evidence that ties the increase to human activity. My guess is that human activity is a substantial contributor to the increase. 

3. The above author seemed miffed when people refer to global warming as a religion. I also consider it a religion in a sense, but not with the same meaning as he refutes. I suppose that I do not think that calling anything a religion discredits it. I am a 'scientific' thinker but am also religious. I think that my religious believes are based on a scientific type method (See Book of Mormon, Alma 32). Nothing about carbon dioxide levels requires faith, but to change one's actions due to the belief/understanding of global warming does require a moral stand. 

Even at the most extreme of generally accepted estimates, the benefit of taking measures to reduce greenhouse gases  does not outweigh the costs when discounted over time. The effects are too slow and too far into the future to justify current action. Also while substantial evidence supports an increase in carbon dioxide and heat, there is much less conclusive evidence about the extent of the effects.  Therefore the moral stand is for the benefit of others (future generations.) 

I think those who change their actions to reduce global warming are acting in faith and due to a moral position. This statement is not intended to discredit anything or anyone, but to express their motivation more precisely.

4. Should this moral stand be legislated and enforced? I do not think so. I think before laws are enforced to make people act against personal time preferences, people should try social influence. Television networks, celebrities and many many people are doing just that and it is great. I do not oppose missionary work or trying to share the positive effects of moral actions.

Since greenhouse emission has a significant negative externality, it seems wise to in some way tax the bad activity or subsidize the good. I think this type of legislation is less preferrable than societal influence, but it is better than outlawing consumer products or certain car colors. I think that this type of legislation should be within reason. I know that is subjective and I would not know where to draw the objective line, but extreme taxes could severly limit personal liberties.

Sometimes taxes can erase societal influence though, and that would be bad. So really, stay away from tax and subsidy if you can!

5. Lastly, I think it is funny how much contradiction exists due to political party stances on various issues. When people try to paint things black and white, they are bound to contradict themselves at some point. In this topic, I consider the typical liberal stance, which is to enforce as many laws as possible to protect the environment and in so doing, limit personal freedoms (like owning a black car or buying certain types of lightbulbs.) I think that these are decisions based on a moral position. The same typical stance would think it bigotted and cruel to not recognize same-sex marriage, which is also a decision based on a moral position. 

Please notice that the inverse is true of the typical conservative viewpoint. 

I also believe that government legislation is easy to create, but harder to eradicate. So if in doubt, I lean to the libertarian side of non-implementation. 

But in all things, there is so much gray area. In order to treat others as you would be treated, how does this apply here? Should we treat future generations like we would like to be if we were them? Or should we treat others now the way we would  by allowing people to consume according to their own morals and preferences?