Friday, July 24, 2009

Indian Giver

An "indian giver" is one who gives away something in what seems to be a permanent but unspecified contract, then insists that the item be returned.

What then is an "indian taker"?

Volunteer Labor Equilibrium

A friend of mine recently interviewed for a non-paid volunteer position at an established relief organization. Apparently they had no positions open for a few months, but suggested she return at that time to try again.

I was blown away for two reasons. First, they must be quite ineffective at interviewing because they definitely do not know what kind of worker and person they turned down. Second, I was intrigued by the equilibrium that was apparently reached.

Marginal cost of the non-paid worker is 0. Well, maybe there are some training costs or other costs associated with account set up, HR work, etc. associated with new hires. So marginal cost is minimal. These means the return to marginal labor is also very low, there are non market influences (union like behavior by those in the paid positions protecting themselves) or the organization is not employing capital and labor optimally.

If the primary explanation is the first reason above, that is great news for humanity, at least in this region. There are so many volunteers that there is not enough capital to allow them to be productive. Any more volunteers will just be getting in the way at this point and reducing the overall output. How excellent would that be? Could you imagine meeting with the Bishop and hearing, "Sorry, we do not have anything you can do for about 2 months. Every single calling is booked." That would have to be an extremely light load for any one person. I think that would stink too. Reminds me of a BYU ward. "I just got my calling, I am the hymn book collection committee to pick up hymnals after meetings. We work closely with the hymn book distribution committee."

I suspect reason number two is the most likely primary reason, but number 3 is also a weaker factor as well.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Why is a day divided into 24 hours? It is a strange number of sections to divide the day. Why not 10 equal segments in a day with 100 minutes each with 100 seconds?

Years are the time for the earth to revolve around the sun once. Great. There happens to be a 365.25 rotations per revolution giving us days. I have not thought about weeks much yet. But hours in a day. That one is on the mind.

I heard a good answer to this question. 24 divides into 360 evenly. 15 degrees per hour. On a analog clock, this means each number is spaced 30 degrees from its neighboors. That is cool.

But, 10 also divides into 360 nicely. It would be 36 degrees per hour. I do not advocate changing this because people are far too comfortable with longitude measurments and our current time system, but it remains interesting to me why and who decided on non-decimal time system. Is this the same for all cultures? Or is time tracking a western idea that spread accross the globe?