Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pirates Loot

I saw a headline for this article:

I realize that the loser in this case is the fan and the player. I am neither of these, so perhaps this is where my opinion differs from those that are.

What is so bad about trying to make a profit? I mean, a baseball franchise is a business. Businesses is most cases have the objective to maximize profit. It is funny how the commissioner has to go and tell people that they are not trying to make a profit. Well, let me correct myself, he has to say the owners are not pocketing the profit. Still, if they were, that is a business decision. Right?

If I start a business and want to pay myself more, if there are profits I can put them back into the business toward growth or I can take it as my salary and do what I want. One way the business will grow and make me profit later, one way is for short run gain.

I cede that the accounting model above is simple. I understand that baseball has unions and rules and regulations and image and on and on and many people are not concerned with the profitability of the team, but with wins and bragging rights. But still, if you do not like the management and the way they run the business, perhaps it is time to find a team that you do like the management for - or stop enabling the management to make decisions you do not like by funding the team.

Monday, September 28, 2009


For the first time since sophomore year in high school, I had to purchase pants with a waist size less than 34 inches. I have consistently selected 34 waist for about 10 years.

Sometimes the 34s were loose or tight depending on the label. My current jeans may still just be manufacturer variance so I am not celebrating about a thinning waist just yet. My purchase of loose 33 inch jeans did cause me to wonder about the economics behind why some 34s are bigger and some are smaller. With such an objective measure, the idea of longer and shorter 34 inches seems absurd, but for some reason it is most definitely the case. Why else are there fitting rooms? If you knew a 34 X 30 would fit you perfectly, you would not need to try it on.

My original thought was that in order to gain customer satisfaction and loyalty, they may add some fabric and call 34 inches 33. Who would not want to shop at the place where they fit into 33 inch jeans? However, my friend reminded me of the marginal cost of fabric and if you are adding an extra inch to each pair of jeans, that is going to cost a lot of money.

Later we went to a relatively cheap clothing store where I barely fit into an adult large shirt. I typically wear medium. She said that cheap clothes are often made smaller and with thinner fabric. Apparently the cost saving method is to overstate the size of the clothes.

I just see this whole game theory, inter-temporal model that predicts the equilibrium between cost of fabric and customer loyalty benefit. It is hard to measure the profitability of appealing to customer psychology or how long that would last. It is also hard to know how many cheaters there would be in the game. All the while the social benefits of having a standardized system are dwindling.

Perhaps more experienced shoppers can enlighten me. What would be some other costs or benefits to understating or overstating clothing sizes?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Circumference of an Ellipse

I was thinking about the integral of a balls flight and wondered if it was equivalent of force. I do not think it is, but the distance travel path would be. Then I thought about it and I do not know how to measure that.

This led me to look into measuring the circumference of an ellipse and divide by two. The circumference of a circle is diameter * pi but an ellipse does not have a diameter. So I looked online for a simple formula and found there is not. But this website is quite thorough in the different options.