link dump

You're not as busy as you think you are. Or, even if you are -- you will feel a lot less busy if you just stop talking about it all the time!

I've often been a bit skeptical about how helpful the minimum wage is. I looked into the empirical research a while ago, and it was pretty inconclusive either way. But one thing I hadn't considered: the higher the minimum wage is, the more likely a minimum wage job is to be replaced by a robot.

And just in case you think that's too speculative, there's already at least one company with a burger flipping product on the market!

On a cheerier note, a 14-year-old has figured out a way for the government to save a hundred million dollars: change typefaces. Alas, the rewards are too diffuse for anyone to bother. Also, it's probably not true anyway.

The article did teach me that there's a peer viewed journal for kids.

Hooray for science! Except that science is hard. All research involving mammals might be confounded by the scent of male researchers.

If you were thinking about trading stocks, you should know the game is rigged. I mean, people have been saying it for a long time. But Michael Lewis explains how one set of people figured out how the game is rigged, precisely, and are building an exchange where that isn't true. So, surprisingly, it seems to be going well.

What's not going so well? Lethal animal attacks on humans. What's your guess for the worst culprit?


Or maybe I should say, bureaucracy!

The white house just announced some nominations, including this one:

Dr. Franklin Orr, Nominee for Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy

Dr. Franklin Orr is the Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, a position he has held since 2009. Dr. Orr has been an associate professor and professor in the Department of Petroleum Engineering since 1985. From 2002 to 2008, Dr. Orr served as the Director of the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford. He was the Dean of the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford from 1994 to 2002 and the Chairman of the Department of Petroleum Engineering from 1991 to 1994. Dr. Orr held several other research positions from 1970 to 1985 in New Mexico, Texas, and Washington, D.C. Dr. Orr received a B.S. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Go Dad!

a confident campaign

There's a lot of lj interest in predicting the election results -- that's all I see on my friends list right now -- so this is probably of interest to lots of you.

The Obama campaign is very confident of a win.

I mean, duh, of course they would say that to a reporter. Crazy not to. But there's a ton of interesting detail in the content.
Chicago is keying off of a daisy-chain of educated assumptions and analysis of existing data to inform their view of the race: the demographic groups that disproportionately back the President will make up a sufficient contribution to the total vote to provide the margin of victory; both new registrants and the early votes now banked are coming disproportionately from those same groups, many of whom are low propensity voters who might not otherwise cast ballots in traditional patterns; the make up of the small remaining undecided bloc is not starkly adverse to the incumbent; and five of the nine battleground states are near-locks for the President, enough to make it impossible for Romney to reach 270 electoral votes.
Lots of interviews with unnamed campaign staffers follow.


I start at Google on monday, and just found out what I'll be working on:

SAFT (semantic analysis from text) in Google Research. This is a deep internal product with internal clients, not consumer-facing. It's a good fit for my skills/interests, so it should be fun.

political platform

It's that time of year. Here's a political platform that guarantees that nobody would ever vote for you... but would make a much bigger difference than either party's, by a mile.

Help the poor

  • End the war on drugs. Legalize almost everything, including most if not all prescription drugs. Perhaps you have to get the scarier stuff from a pharmacy that will check for drug interactions and give you information about safe usage. (One challenge: what do you do with all the poor black men with no skills you're about to let out of prison? That's a big re-integration task.) Anyway by now it's clear that drug prohibition has been even more disastrous than alcohol prohibition was. As a side effect, allow drugs on the market (appropriately labeled) without FDA approval.

  • Phase out the minimum wage. Reducing employment to raise the wages of the employed seems like a bad idea when there's such large unemployment at the low end. But this will be done in combination with a...

  • Guaranteed minimum income, perhaps implemented via a negative income tax. Any long term resident or citizen is eligible. This will replace social security.

  • Curtail (or end) the various government occupational licensing agencies. I don't need my hair braider to have two years of specialized education. Those agencies reduce jobs and make services much more expensive -- about a third of people work in jobs requiring a license. That's a lot of the economy to be restricting.

    Simplify taxes

  • Lots of things become ordinary income: carried interest, capital gains (adjusted for inflation so you're not paying taxes on inflation), dividends. Rates are still graduated. Inheritances and gifts over some threshold would be considered ordinary income.

  • Carbon tax! However, no more corporate income taxes.

  • End the mortgage tax deduction (via phase out), and related interest deductions. Probably lots of others as well, such as tax advantaged savings accounts, which are less necessary with a guaranteed minimum income.


  • End all foreign invasions and wars as quickly as possible. Stop invading other countries.

  • Spend a lot less on defense in general. Defense spending has gone up 73% in real dollars in the last decade (cite), higher than the height of the cold war. One easy one: I think europe can take care of itself now. Let's close all those bases in Germany. Also, I'm pretty sure we don't need 11 carrier strike groups when nobody else has more than 1. Those puppies are expensive.


  • TSA needs to die. Privatize it, let individual airports figure out security, and I'll choose the one with the shortest lines.

  • Greatly expand immigration. If you want to come here and work (which means generate wealth), I'm all for it. You probably need some throttling mechanism just for logistical issues, but we could probably deal with a few percent of the population per year without much trouble. Certainly anyone who gets a degree here should automatically be allowed to stay. You're eligible for the basic income allowance after you've been here for N years (5? 8?) or if you become a citizen.

  • Health care... health care is hard. Have a basic guaranteed health care where there is a list of conditions that get treated at government expense, which excludes anything that is chronic and not life threatening. Anything more than the very basics would be private. Health care from corporations would be taxed.

  • No patents on software, patents in general get a much shorter lifespan (8 years?), copyrights are greatly reduced (20 years instead of life + infinity, with an additional 10 years on registration).

    Phew. Anyone I didn't piss off yet?
  • poker

    life update, in (very) brief

    Oct 1, I will be starting work at Google as a product manager.

    This is just the latest iteration in my ongoing plan of only taking jobs I'm not qualified for and have no experience at. So far it's worked out well.

    If any of you think there's a particular product at Google that's well- or poorly-suited to me, let me know. I'm submitting a list of things I'd like to work on later today.

    day 2 table draw

    Let me know if you know anything about these guys:

    Donny Carlton has a pretty thin record in seat 1, and a short stack at 18,750.

    Kevin Calenzo, 39,150 in seat 2 won a circuit event earlier this year. Looks like good tournament pro.

    Timothy Odell, 40,550, seat 3. I can't find a thing on him.

    David Orr with 21,725, seat 4 has won a few things, but not since 2008, which is forever ago. Judging by his blog, he's mostly a cash game player. Short stack, nothing to worry about. His twitter account mostly consists of chip count updates and a profile photo showing bad posture.

    Tyler Box with 50,425 in seat 5 also has almost no record. His twitter appears to have been hacked. Also he looks just like Mr. T.

    Philipp Gruissem aka philbort has 15,500 in seat 6. Looks like an online tournament pro, pretty decent stats. Short stack though. He's done very well in the last 12 months -- 28th in the main last year, and 1.6M in live cashes in the last 10 months or so. German.

    William Luciano, who cleverly misspelled his name as Luciand to avoid the googles (thanks mjlewis for figuring that out) with 20,450 in seat 7 has one cash on record. His main claim to fame appears to be busting Sergio Garcia during his one cash. His twitter feed is as boring as everyone else's.

    Julian Meer with 33,400 in seat 8 doesn't have much in the way of live results, but his twitter @julianmeer lists him as living in Vancouver, while his WSOP entry has him from Santa Barbara. This probably means he's an online pro living up in Vancouver so he can play.

    Jameson Painter has 34,300 Amazon in seat 9, aka bugstud. He's an active 2+2 poster, evidently a strong limit player. He found a bunch of backers on 2+2 for the main, even after getting backers for the prelim events and striking out. Updates his backers on twitter but doesn't really say much other than chip counts.

    So it looks like two tournament pros, two online cash game pros, four unknowns, and me. That is probably a reasonable table draw, certainly way better than last year. All the stacks are medium or small, so we may have some quick turnover.

    Ideally just not by me!

    main event day 1 hands

    I finished the day with about 20k in chips, obviously not great -- starting was 30k, average is now 44k. But my low point was 11k, so I doubled up!

    My table was pretty soft. The most notable spot was a friendly ~68 year old gentleman who revealed to me during break that this was only his second time playing poker! He had a regrettable inability to fold any hand as strong as about A high. He did win a bunch of chips early on, and lasted 4.5 levels. Other than him everyone was at least decent, but limped preflop pots were pretty common, and there was very little three betting from people who were not me. And yet I failed to capitalize.

    Here are a few hands:

    1: LAG immediately to my right (young hispanic guy, goes to UMass, wearing a Red Sox cap with the sticker still on the underside of the brim) limps for 100. His playstyle is interesting, a fair amount of limp/calling preflop, or raise/calling preflop, then donk bets on the flop and turn. Very tenacious, as it turns out, though I don't know that this hand. I have AKhh and raise to 400, bb calls, LAG calls.

    Flop is QJ5hh, bb checks, LAG bets 800. Usually this sort of lead is either a monster, or a bet for information, ie top pair weak kicker or second pair, that will fold against pressure. So I raise to 2300, LAG calls. Turn is a J, he checks, I bet 3800, he calls. River is a blank, he checks. Fire one more time, or give up? I give up and check, he has KQ.

    2: This is a similar hand much later in the day, 150-300 blinds. I open for 725 from the middle with JTss. Old calling station guy cold calls on the button, Shane Schleger aka shaniac, a very good online tournament pro, defends the bb.

    Flop is 345, one spade. Shane checks, old man button has an obvious fold tell, so I c-bet 1400, button folds, Shane calls. Turn is the 8s giving me a flush draw, Shane checks, I bet 2800, he calls. River is a K. He checks. Do I fire one more bullet, or give up and check behind?

    While I like my check behind on hand 1, here I think I should bet. That K can't have improved him, and it could hit me, plus I've been showing enough strength in this hand, and enough control the rest of the time, that it should look pretty scary. But I check behind instead, and he tables 66 for the win.

    3: I've had a lot of history with the LAG to my right, unfortunately with him largely getting the best of it. I *think* he was just outflopping me, but there was a pretty common pattern of him limping or raising, and me raising right behind him, and our taking a flop after he calls. I was of course raising him without a monster fairly often, though the times I'd shown down it was hands like AK and TT -- but I'm doing it enough that he must know I don't always have that big a hand.

    Twice I'd three bet him with big pocket pairs -- KK and QQ -- and an A flopped and he donked. Both times I called the flop and folded later in the hand, once to his bet on the turn, and once to a check-raise from the blind on the flop. But I'd probably raised his open preflop 15 times over the course of the day, and he'd either called or folded every time... until this hand.

    I have 22k, he has me well covered, blinds are 200-400-50, he open limps, I raise right behind with JJ to 1600, sb (new player at the table, played one hand so far, KK, flopped set-over-set against Shaniac and doubled up on his first hand) cold calls, and now LAG raises to 7k.

    Ugh. Limp-reraise is a new move for him. I've seen him limp-call several pairs (including limp, I raise with A4hh, Shaniac shoves for 10k, LAG calls with 99, I fold, Shane's TT holds), but never limp-reraise. On the other hand, he's just lost two biggish pots and his stack is down from 80k to 50k, and maybe he's looking to mix things up.

    I don't think calling is a good option for a third of my stack, so it's jam or fold time. Do I respect the limp-rr, or is JJ good enough to shove it in? From a GTO perspective I should certainly shove here, or it's correct for him to raise all my raises... but I'm not so worried about GTO in a spot with this much history and no prospect of future play with him.

    His raise is big. That doesn't look like a raise that wants action, it looks like a raise that wants to win the pot... so something like 88, and not something like AA. Another detail is that he often sighed before he bet postflop, which sounded like a release of tension, and which I had tentatively marked as a sign of strength, and he didn't do it here.

    What should I do with my JJ?

    JAM for 21k
    FOLD, make day two, find better spots
    CALL, planning to get it in on a safe flop
    CALL, planning to get it in on any flop

    Collapse )

    Tomorrow is another day, as they say in old, weepy movies. I plan to win rather more chips tomorrow than I did yesterday.