Today I am Going to Fly

Some men are born posthumously. ~Nietzsche

Archive for June, 2009

Obama: Master of Irony

Posted by penuruloki on June 29, 2009

There’s another great article up on Powerline that shouldn’t be missed. The greatest irony though, comes from our own current President:

“”I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference.”

Of course, what you’re not supposed to understand when you read that quote, is that the Honduran military expelled President Zelaya by order of the Honduran Supreme court, as he sought to circumvent the law, and hold an illegal election to stay in power, with assistance from Venezuela.

Lets look at that quote again, with a little more ink:

“”I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya.”

No surprised that Obama lines up to support the same people as Chavez, Castro and the other Latin American dictators.

“As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference.”

Obama doesn’t need to call on Honduran patriots or their political actors to do any of this. They’re already doing it by removing Zelaya before he consolidates power and becomes a true tyrant. The Honduran military is taking their cues straight from their Supreme Court and elected legislature. It’s the exact reverse of the old military dictarships. This time they’re defending the people and their rights.

Someone’s defending the people’s right to free government? And it’s the military no less? There’s two reasons why Obama is pissed off. The rest of us should be cheering them on, and disgusted by our own government.

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WoW and the Dollar Auction

Posted by penuruloki on June 20, 2009

The Dollar Auction is a product of game theory that exposes a mechanism where people can make perfectly rational decisions that end with a wildly irrational result. The Wiki article is a better explanation, but I’ll summarize briefly.

Imagine an auction for $1 where the highest 2 bidders have to pay their bid, but only the highest bidder gets the dollar. It’s rational to start bidding when the bid is under a dollar, and appears less rational as the bid approaches $1. The catch is that once the bid reached $1, the 2nd highest bidder (99c) has to choose between losing their current bid amount, or bidding again to take a much smaller loss. So the bidding continues long after any chance of gain, as the 2 bidders left try to cut their losses.

As regards WoW, Gevlon brought it up in reference to a fishing competition, and tied it to other forms of competition in WoW such as AH sales and ladder-based pvp competition. But the recent release of the PTR patch notes for 3.2 makes for an interesting look at how it relates to WoW itself.

MMORGs are in a constant state of flux as developers continue to add new features to keep players attention, and balance new and existing elements against each other. This means a steady stream of “nerfs” and “buffs” to characters that typically have a substantial amount of time investment. This time around, some of the most significant changes revolve around the Paladin class, which has it’s own sort of strange history within the game to begin with. Some people are happy with the changes, as always, and there’s also quite a bit of grumbling about the changes in the official forums.

But the rational reality is that only 2 actions will get the attention of the developers and sway them toward more attractive changes.

1) Stop playing the class. “Reroll” something else so representation dries up and there’s quantitative evidence that the devs are on the wrong path.

2) Stop playing the game altogether. Stop paying the fee, note the reason on the form when you unsubscribe, and let the impact on the bottom line speak for itself. Play something else if necessary.

Those are the rational responses. But that’s not what people actually do. Why? Because the nerfed character is the 2nd highest bidder in the dollar auction. They already have a substantial investment that they stand to lose by choosing those options, such as time spent leveling/gearing (both options) and social connections made with others who play the game (option 2). So unless they’ve invested in some level of redundancy (leveling an alt to the cap for other reasons that can now become their “main” character, or playing 2 games at once so that leaving 1 for a while has less of an impact), the 2 rational options both represent a loss, while other choices (accepting the changes, ranting on the forums, issuing death threats to devs, etc) represent an attempt to raise their bid to cut their losses.

Ultimately, dealing with the roller coaster ride of “balance” in these games becomes a meta game unto itself. As the WOPR says, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” The investment in these games is neccesarily wasted at some point, when the game ends (though it is potentially possible to “cash in” by selling accounts before the game ends and pass the end loss to the buyer).

Thus, playing a persistent world game is utimately an irrational decision to begin with, not due to the payment typically associated with the games, but by the nature of perisitence as being an investment by nature. MMORGs work then by exploiting the principles behind the dollar auction. Rational response requires an ability to write off a (sometimes substatial) investment.

No, I’m not quitting WoW. I am thinking of switching mains (I’m an altoholic by nature, so this is easily whithin my means).  I consider it a useful thought exercise though, to see the visible expression of theory (game theory in this example). I was interested in the concept of MMORGs long before I started playing WoW, all the way back to UO actually. The part I always considered irrational though, was paying the montly fee for a game you’ve already purchased. It turns out that WoW is cheap entertainment (I’d have to spend much more buying new games to get the same leisure time), but that the initially interesting part (the persistence of character) is where it becomes irrational.

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Appropriate

Posted by penuruloki on June 17, 2009

A story.

Back on St. Patrick’s day, I was hanging out with Keith and we wound up at the Claddagh in Mounds View, where Sam joined us after work. We started off in the small outside area initially, with a bite to eat and a pint. While we expected Irish music (being an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s day) we figured out quickly that the band was really a cover band playing various hits. The only actual Irish music I heard was U2, and that’s only really Irish by technical definition. The band was good at what they were playing though, and the songs were good songs, so we went with it.

We started out on the small outside area with a bite to eat and a pint. While we were out there, we watched a small news crew from the local cable channel setting up. They apparently took segments over the music, so they must have had good sound filtering. I was only really sure they were filming when they brought the manager or whoever out for an interview. I couldn’t hear any of the interview over the music, but I got to watch with bemusement, and wonder if it was by design of the band, or simply and expression of humor on the part of the universe at large.

Through the interview, the band in the backround was playing “Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley.  It was beautiful.

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Posted by penuruloki on June 15, 2009

“The danger liberalism poses to the American experiment comes from its disposition to deplete rather than replenish the capital required for self-government.

[…]

Conservatives have no guarantees that they will be able to save the American experiment from those who cavalierly dissipate the capital required to sustain it. They can only struggle to prudently reconcile the experiment’s deepest needs with the exigencies posed by today’s circumstances and threats. If that reconciliation ultimately requires nothing short of morally disgusting compromises that give up basic principles, the conservative will, instead, cheerfully commit to doing his duty for the duration, fully expecting to die on the losing side.”

~William Voegeli

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