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Friday, May 19, 2006

A Blackjack Fable

Category: Mind Change
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  • I read this twice over a couple days. There was no preface the first time, and it was a good addition.  The basic idea you present, abstracted away from the game of blackjack, is the fact that time-preference is arbitrary and personal.  Drive slow or drive fast, depending on whether you like the trip more, or the destination - or depending on the trade-off between controlling the actual outcome or the amount of time it takes to get there.

    And what a perfect model of purgatory:  If you’re too stupid to figure out how to play *just one certain hand* of blackjack in a way that swings the odds in your favor, it’s possible to be stuck there forever.  But if you pay attention and learn, you’ll eventually find a strategy that works, and your debt can be “worked” off by applying it.

    “Adversion” (the act of turning to face something) is an interesting new word for me, and I think you meant “aversion” (a tendency to turn away from something) which is near its opposite.  Also, you use “Advise” where “advice” would work better.

    Lastly, you’ve posted this in two appropriate categories because I haven’t provided one called, let’s say, “argument through storytelling”.  It is a neat way to present an idea, but I have a specific difficulty with it:  The purpose of the story is kind of broken into two parts (to entertain with a story, and to educate with a point about time-preference), and both are weakened by the split.  One should be subordinate to the other.  For example, you could focus on the story and have Charon and the reader share a knowing wink at the end and skip their technical conversation.  That would have made more sense to me since Charon, having been around for so long, would probably already know about the smart move of breaking basic strategy when you’re in Purgatory Palace.  Of course the plug for your site would then be even more gauche.  Only knowing readers or those who wish to explore would figure out the details.  Or you could focus on the argument (start by pointing out that a blackjack system should allow flexibility that depends on time-preference or risk-aversion) and tell the story in the middle of it.  That would make the plug less gauche grin.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/21  at  04:10 PM
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