April 18th, 2005


Another name not to forget

Karen Freeman. She moved to Seattle at one point. A quick google search shows her having worked for Jim Horn as a legislative assistant about 5years ago. No idea where she is now.

Also, Cygne. Damn she had nice legs.

Hard Hat

Temporary stop-gap solutions never are

Today's software development rule is: temporary solutions never are.

In order to get a product out the door, do not agree to have your development team run production reports until finance gets their systems changed

When a feature is no longer necessary, someone will always continue to think it's critical to their work and require you to maintain it.

Canyon Falls


We hope you're enjoying Netflix Friends. We've been busy finding ways to improve the feature and thought you might like to know that we've completely redesigned the Friends page. Starting tomorrow, here are some of the new things to look for.

  • See what movies your friends are currently enjoying at home.
  • See what movies your friends have coming next by taking a peek at their Queue.
  • See what movies your friends just added to their Queue.

I'm loving Netflix more and more. Partially it's the voyeurism. But I've also used the existing friends features to pick out new movies and have emailed a couple of folks to find out why they rated a movie low.

Roger Lodge

Krush Groove

My freshman year high school crush, KeriAnn Kincaid, just got married. My junior year high school crush, Cathy … argghhhh! mind blanking… got married a couple of years ago.

Edit: Buckley

No word on my 5th grade crush, Kirsten Lie. My sixth grade crush, Joan Stipek, married a guy who is now at Expedia. Not that I remember offhand who it is. I'd have to go see if I made an entry on that. I think I did. He mentioned my name to her and she asked if I used to attend that school. Course, I never told her at the time I liked her. Cause, well, I was slightly more of a chickenshit than I am now.

But only slightly.

I can't remember whether Martha Kalnin was my 7th grade crush or 8th grade. She's married too now. And I can't remember the other junior high crush or my sophomore crush. This is why I was writing down names from the 90s. Not that I was crushing on them. But I need a record.


Eco 200: Cost considerations

(group) When a prominent hospital in New England decided early in the 1980s to turn down a request by staff surgeons to perform heat transplants, the general director of the hospital objected to the statement that this decision was "based largely on cost considerations." On the contrary, he insisted, "the decision was based largely on the limited physical resources and the highly trained personnel of the hospital. For each heart transplantation operation," he pointed out, "would have to turn away a number of other patients who receive less resource-draining open-heart surgery that is more predictably beneficial to them than heart transplants currently are."

  1. Do you agree that the decision was not based on cost considerations?

    No. The hospital administration was at least considering non-monetary opportunity cost.

  2. What is the valuable opportunity forgone when the hospital performs a transplant operation?

  3. vThe hospital cannot perform a more predictably beneficial operation. Sometimes predictability is more valuable than other considerations.</p>
  4. Why didn't the hospital simply hire more surgeons and buy more physical resources if "cost considerations" were not the reason for the hospital's decision?

    I disagree that cost considerations were not the reason for the hospital's decision. Even were they to hire them and money was not the object, there are other opportunity costs to consider for the newly hired surgeons.

  5. What do you suppose prompted the hospital's general director to insist the decision was not based on cost considerations?

    Because when people think of cost, they often think purely in monetary terms. If patients start to believe that the hospital care more about money than it does for the welfare of the patients, they'll start going to other hospitals because they don't want the hospital making their health decisions based on the money the might not be able to pay.

    That and they don't want to look like immoral profiteers.


Eco 200: mowing the Taj Mahal

(individual) The acres of grass surrounding the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, are often cut by young women who slice off handfuls with short kitchen blades. Is this a low- or high-cost way to keep a lawn mowed?

It depends on the costs of the alternatives. I assume that the managers have picked the lowest cost to them based on those alternatives. It wouldn't make sense for them to pay anything more than the minimum, all considerations being taken into account. By that, I mean they’ve looked at the cost of labor as well as the cost associated with alternatives means like gasoline or mechanical mowers. There are many costs associated with those alternatives that Westerners wouldn't take into account: the need to clear out paying pilgrims for safety, getting permits (expensive and time consuming in India), losing their own jobs for not using the site to employ more Indians, or more mundane costs like the purchase and fueling of gasoline mowers. A hand laborer can be paid a few rupees per day. Even better, the laborers might be willing to pay to cut the grass for the opportunity to beg from tourists uninhibited. A new mower might cost several thousand rupees, and the gasoline a few hundred more every month.


Eco 200: injury suits

(group) A newspaper headline says, "Injury Suits Rise As Other Legal Work Dries Up." Use the concept of opportunity cost to explain what is happening. Would laws that severely restrict injury suits reduce the cost of hiring a lawyer to draw up a last will and testament?

To explain, I'll postulate three opportunities for lawyers that cover much of the domain of opportunities available: suing for breach of contract (other legal work), personal injury suits, and getting out of the legal profession. As the supply of breach of contract matters dries up, once less lucrative injury suits become marginally better than getting out of the legal profession (which entails large costs to learn something else). Other legal work may be better opportunity, but if there is little supply of them, the cost to obtain that work (i.e., marketing) goes up.

A law that severely restricted injury suits might lower the cost of hiring a lawyer to draw up a last will and testament. But I don't consider it too likely. It only changes the opportunity cost of one alternative. Vast numbers of lawyers might simply take up teaching at community colleges as the opportunity there is high.


Eco 200: outsourcing

(group) Why might a multinational corporation with identical plants in different countries pay different wage rates to workers in two different countries even though their skill levels are the same? Does this strike you as unjust? Why might the higher-paid workers object?

Multinationals might because there are fewer opportunities for workers in country B than country A. So there is a higher supply of workers at the lower price. If they had better opportunity they'd go for it.

It's unjust for the workers of country A. But extra-just for workers in country B. Humorous phrasing aside, someone in country B would consider it unjust that the money goes to someone in country A when they are willing to do it for less. Workers in country A would consider it unjust as they are unable to make a profitable living due to costs that are higher than what are those in country B make. Either way there is injustice.

Higher paid workers might object because the work can be moved to country B, and their opportunities are then fewer. So either they take less money from the multinational, or they take less because they are laid off with X fewer opportunities available, and they take less because there are fewer opportunities.


Eco 200: selling the old house

(individual) Henrietta George bought her old house 48 years ago for $2000. She could get $200,000 for it today if she chose to sell it. About how much do you suppose it's costing her per month to continue living in her large old house?

Her house is appreciating at the rate of $343 per month, assuming linear progression that continues. The opportunity cost of not selling is $343 per month, minus the cost of living somewhere else. Given that it's likely she would have to pay more to live somewhere else, it's marginally better to stay in the house.

However, she could spend or invest the $200,000. Staying in the house means she gives up that opportunity which could be potentially lucrative, but impossible to calculate given current information.


Eco 200: cost of class

(individual) What does it cost you to sleep through one of 30 lectures in a course for which you paid $300 in tuition? What does it cost you to attend?

The cost is the knowledge one would have gained from the lecture, which could be worth a better grade, and better employment prospects, etc. To attend costs the student at least a good nap. Unless it's my EE240 lab teacher I had in 1995. In which case, you got a nap either way.


Eco 200: Casualties of war

(individual) Should the causalities already incurred in a war be taken into account by a government in deciding whether it is in the national interest to continue the war? This is obviously not a trivial question. And it is a much more difficult question than you might at first suppose, especially for a government depending on popular support.

Your real consideration is will winning be worth the future cost of the casualties. However, future costs may include past casualties. To explain, consider public opinion which will force an administration out of office if casualties climb above 1000. If 800 casualties have already occurred, the marginal cost of 200 casualties is much higher than the first 800 casualties. Strictly speaking, the administration is only considering the cost of the next 200 casualties. But they have to know and consider that there were already 800 casualties in order to calculate the marginal cost of 200 casualties.

Also, one other consideration that includes past casualties is something I learned in estimating project costs. If your previous estimates were off by a certain amount, you don't ever get that back. I estimate a project consisting of two parts will take 2 months, 1 month on each part. If part 1 takes 2 months, it's likely that part 2 will be off by a similar amount. In war, you don't have any clear knowledge of future casualties. You have an estimate. If your estimate to pacify half of a country is that it will take 500 casualties, but instead you lose 800. It's likely the original estimate for pacifying the other half of the country is underestimated as well.