Friday, February 29, 2008

Chess Puzzle

I saw this chess position/puzzle on some website earlier today. I thought it was pretty neat, and it's probably not that uncommon a situation. It took me a while to see the correct move. Hopefully, I'll get better at spotting these types of vulnerabilities in the future.

Anyway, here it is. It is White's turn to move... what's the best play here?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday Night Chess

Jim and I played 5 games tonight. I ended up winning 3 out of 5 games. The last 3 games were really quite good. Two of them, Jim came back from a losing position to win. Here's one where I made a psychological blunder. I am playing Black, and Jim just captured my Knight on f6.

I was so worried about the pawn and the threat of another capture with discovered check that I did not take the time to think through what would happen if I allowed it to happen. So, my move should have been Rxe1, and it turns out that if he takes the pawn on g7 with check, I could simply move my King to g8. As a result, I would remain in the lead with a fairly straightforward win. Instead, I blundered and took the pawn with my Rook, leading to disaster.

Now, here's a game I wound up winning as a result of a sneak attack. I am once again Black, and the game is fairly even at this point.

I decide to play a bit deceptively, and I move Bc6 to threaten his queen. But, that threat isn't all that scary. Jim can either move the Queen to safety, or he can take the Bishop with his Knight. But, my move was not much more than a ruse. The real threat is the mate in 2 that I am set up for with my latest move. Fortunately, Jim overlooked the real danger, and captured the Bishop with his Knight. The rest (all of 2 moves) is history.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dice Games

Last night, I was at the bar having a beer and playing some word games on the machine. But, I also got a chance to play some dice games for drinks. I learned a couple new games, but the only one I played for drinks was one I already knew how to play from previous experience.

Anyway, here are the 3 games we played.

Liar's Dice

This is the game we played for drinks. We played it 4-handed, and each time someone lost, they would set aside a die. Eventually, someone will lose all 5 dice, and at that point, they'd buy the round. So, in terms of winning drinks, you basically needed not to come in last place.

I won two beers!

This game, if you're unfamiliar with it, is simple. You figure out who starts (usually, the previous loser). Then you call out something like 3 5's. If you call this, you are saying that of ALL the dice in all the rolls, there are 3 5's. The next player then either calls you out, or ups the bid. So, he might say, 5 4's. And, so forth. At some point someone is called out, and all rolls are revealed. Either the bidder is a liar, or the caller is wrong. In either case, someone loses (and loses a die in the process).

We played this where 1's were wild, and it got a bit nuts. But, it was a fun game. It's certainly my favorite dice game.

Ship, Captain, Crew

This wasn't really that fun a game, and just seemed silly to me. Anyway, the variation we played was a bit different than the rules I read online. Both 1-2-3 and 6-5-4 were allowed as (ship - captain - crew).

Basically, the way we played it (heads-up), you each get 3 rolls total. On the first roll, both players uncover their dice. If anyone has a 6-5-4 or a 1-2-3, then their ship is complete with captain and crew, and whatever was left over would be their score. So, if I had rolled 1 1 2 3 4, I would have 5 points (1 2 3) + (1 4).

If no one had any points (lack of a ship, captain, and crew), then you would keep the components you had, and re-roll the rest of them. So, say I rolled a 2 3 3 4 6, then I would keep only the 6, and re-roll the other 4 dice. I can't keep the 4, because you can't have a crew without a captain.

It would be up to the current loser to beat the best score, but before the current loser gets a chance, the current leader would have the option to start all over. The important thing is that each player gets up to 3 rolls, and that's it.

So, here's an example of a game and why it might be best for the current leader to start over.

Roll 1 (both): A = (1 2 4 5 6) vs B = (1 2 2 5 5) -- A has 3 points (1 + 2). B has only a ship and a captain, so he gets to re-roll 3 dice keeping the 1 and 2. Player A allows B to continue, and does not choose to start over.

Roll 2 (only B): Kept (1 2), New (2 3 3) -- Now, B has 5 points (2 + 3). So, A gets to re-roll his 2 dice to try and beat 5. Player B might choose to start over at this point, since it is his option to do so. Reason is that it's likely that Player A beats 5, and if he does then Player B has exactly one roll to beat Player A, who still has one more roll (his 3rd).

Boss Dice

This game was pretty much a simplified poker game. Both players roll 5 dice and then uncover their rolls. You are basically looking for a single, a pair, 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, or 5 of a kind. Two Pair, Straights, and Full Houses don't count. So, both players see what their strongest poker hand is, and the best one is deemed the Boss.

Now, the Boss takes the made part of his hand aside. And, he rolls the rest of his dice in secret. He then has a choice. Do you start over, or do you allow your opponent to draw to his hand by re-rolling whatever he wants. Only if the opponent is given a chance to re-roll and a showdown takes place can the game end. At the showdown, Full Houses and Two Pair count, but straights do not.

Here's an example game:

A = (2 2 5 5 6) B = (3 2 1 6 6)

B is the boss with a pair of 6's. A has only one pair (5's)... remember, Two Pair does not count on the first roll.

B sets aside the 2 6's, and rolls 3 dice in secret. Say B rolls a (2 4 5). B can now choose to let A try and catch up, or choose to start over. If he lets A try and catch up, A technically could win by keeping his 2 pair (Two Pair is allowed on the showdown), but A would not know that B hasn't improved his hand. In this spot, B probably chooses to just start over.

Basically, this is repeated until you have a winner. And, we played this game best out of 3.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cool Game - Spin The Black Circle

Okay, this is a cool game. I'm on Level 18 so far on it though I'm not sure how many levels there are. The game is really based on a simple concept. You rotate the circle which shifts the direction of the gravitational pull. So far that game has been both challenging and quite entertaining.

Spin the Black Circle

*** Edit #1 ***

OK, well I'm stuck pretty good on Level 20. Duke was able to get past it and the next level already. I will have to work on this game some more.

*** Edit #2 ***

I finally beat the game... there are 24 levels total. The last one is a real tough one... at least for me. I spent close to 2 hours before I could beat it. After beating it my total time was near 10 minutes. So, I replayed a few of the levels to try and better my overall time.

Here's an image showing my current best times.

And, to give you an idea of how sick some people are, the top 100 times range from 1 minute 29 seconds to the 4 minute mark. Very sick. I have no idea how anyone can get even close to that, but I guess it's possible.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Poker Comeback

I just got back from a 7 hour session of poker. As you know, my session on Tuesday night was brutal, and I lost 30 bets. Tonight started off horribly, and I was stuck a rack pretty early on. The first early beat that I suffered, I had KQc and raised it up pre-flop. A few of us see the flop for two bets apiece. The board comes medium cards with 2 clubs. I bet and get called in two spots. The turn brings a 5c, and the river pairs the board. I go 3 bets with a guy on the river, and lose to his pocket 5's.

Luckily, things turned around not long after. I finally pick up a premium hand... KK. The betting is capped 7 ways, and the flop is a beautiful K high, but it's dangerous with a flush draw possible. A guy bets into me, and I raise it. There are 5 of us that see the turn for 2 bets each. The turn and river are safe (the only way someone could have a straight was if they hit their runner-runner with a 74 or something like that). I scoop a really large pot, and I'm back to positive.

After that turning point, I continued to play really tight and fortunately, I started hitting a few flops. And, even more fortunately, the hands held up. I end up a whopping 58 bets for the night. If I didn't have a morning meeting tomorrow, I'd probably still be there playing right now. Ha ha.

I did flop quads once, which was sweet. A5h flopped 555, the turn was a 7, and the river was a T. I was paid off nicely by a guy holding TT. What was interesting was that every street was raised exactly once. I did the raising on the river. TT did the raising on all the other streets. And, there was a super donkey that was in the hand along with us. Too bad he folded on the turn after betting into the TT guy and getting raised.

Okay, anyway, that's the scoop. It's certainly nice to be on the positive side of variance. Time for bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Addition to the Long-Term Portfolio

I initiated a position in Manitowoc (MTW) at 39.50 today. The company produces construction cranes, but it also deals in food service equipment (primarily cold-related products like ice machines and refrigerators) and has a ship construction and repair business. There was a positive write-up in the S&P Outlook recently that brought it to my attention. I looked into it, and I felt that the S&P folks made a convincing enough case for me to buy.

They believe that demand for the company's cranes will remain strong through at least the end of the decade. And, the company is trading at the low end of its historical P/E range for the current point in its business cycle. The S&P cites the key risk to their recommendation as weaker than expected performance in global construction markets.

Assuming that nothing about the company really changes for the worse, I plan on keeping this one for the long-term.

*** Edit #1 ***

Looks like Terex (TEX) came in with earns well above consensus estimates. Looks like there is some positive spillover over to MTW. Hoping for the best in the quarters to come.

Return To Poker and Obligatory Chess

Well, I have been on such a chess kick lately that I haven't had the urge to go play any cards. But, I know that I really should, because it is a gainful hobby. So, today was my return to the game. I went to play a session with Captain Kings, and it was fairly uneventful. I lost 30 bets in roughly 6 hours of 'boring' play.

I was card dead for most of the night. Except for some reason I got dealt AK five times (lost 4 times, and took down a small pot with a flop bet). I lost with AQ vs KK on a Q high board, and I also got jizzacked when 3 of us flopped flushes (one guy holding the nuts). What can I say? I never really got out of line, and I simply pissed my chips away slowly. But, I did go out with a bang... 3 losing hands in a row. I called it a night right after these took place, as it capped off a 2 1/2 hour stretch with zero pots won.

Hand #1

A8s, I limp after several limpers. Flop comes 876, rainbow with 1 spade. Checks to a guy that basically bets anything. I raise, then a decent player 3-bets it from the SB. I definitely have not not so good feeling about my hand at this point. Original bettor now caps it. Okay, he bets anything, but he doesn't re-raise without the goods. I lay down my ultra-vulnerable (if not already dead) TPTK. There is a lot of action, and the hands are finally revealed. Both of them flopped straights. The decent player had T9s, and the initial bettor had 54o.

Hand #2

I get dealt QQ on the very next hand. I raise a few limpers, and it's 6 of us to the flop for 2 bets apiece. The flop is AT3, and tight old guy bets right out into me. I contemplate a call, but see there are two others that are basically going to call him. I just go ahead and muck it. The turn is a 9, and the river is a blank. Some guy won with T9, and the tight guy flashed an Ace and mucks in disgust.

Hand #3

Then, I get another playable hand right away.. AJh. I raise a limper, and there's a cold caller. The blinds also call. 5 of us see a flop of A64. I bet and get a couple callers. The turn is a 5, and I get only one caller. The river is a 2, and I pay off the guy with 43o in the blind.

That's poker. Sometimes you play well, and you lose money. I think I played my B+/A- game, but the card gods frowned upon me.

Okay, well that's the poker update... I'll probably play again on Thursday. If I get brutalized again I might take a break from the game (again).

Now, for more chess. So, I played a game with Jim recently. I found a winning move when presented with the following position. It was a nice combination that results in the loss of his Queen. After my move, he saw what was going on, and immediately resigned. Crafty actually preferred a different move, but I'm not good enough to pass up a Queen trap.

Anyway, here's the position. It's my move as White after Jim pushed his pawn to g5.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obee 800 - Luxury Business Gift Set

It has been a year since we first had our chip put on a mass-market phone. Since then, there have been quite a few new phones in the marketplace with our components.

Anyway, I got word over the weekend that the Obee 800 phone is now available in China. I felt that this one was worth sharing, because of the rather extravagant packaging. I think eventually the phone will be available in a normal package, but I guess this luxury package is how they decided to launch the product.

I think it's clear that the Chinese business folks know the baller lifestyle. Check out the contents of this gift box! In addition to the Obee 800 phone, the luxury box set comes with a Zippo lighter, two cigars, a cigarette case (no idea if cigarettes are included), and a liquor flask. I doubt this would fly as a business gift in the ridiculously politically correct U.S., but it's big time pimpin' no matter how you look at it.

All the images were taken from this review from

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend Food

I was in LA over the weekend... While I don't have much to say about it, I did want to share some food pictures with all of you.

This is a special homemade dish that was prepared for me... Creme Fraiche with Scallops and Shrimp over Fettucine along with a side of asparagus. It was damn good! Seriously, I would have paid decent money for this dish at a restaurant. It was that good.

Four of us also went to Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo. The quality of the fish was excellent. Really fresh, and so very delicious. The only piece I wasn't a big fan of was the Hamachi. Maybe it was the cut, but it wasn't the awesome melt-in-your-mouth experience. My favorite, Uni, was superb. Oh man, it was so super tasty. Here is a picture of the first platter that we all shared.

I also got to try a couple cakes over at Jin Patisserie. One of them was a pistachio flavored cake with raspberries, and the other one was a chocolate cake dubbed The Oriental. Both cakes were quite good, but I think the pistachio one was the better of the two. The one bummer was that we were planning on trying their macaroons, but we got there a bit late, and they were all sold out. I'd be willing to go there again, but if I do, I'm definitely going to go early.

And, before I left, I helped bake some bread. Here are a few pics showing the progression from dough to risen dough to finished product.

I really miss having nice food, so it was certainly a great weekend for me in the food department. Anyway, that's it. Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed indulging.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quick Update

Closed out the Apple (AAPL) Feb $125 puts (APVNE) at 0.20 for a nice gain of 1.60 per contract. Okay, no more babysitting my positions... time to enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More Chess...

Well, I've begun getting others back into playing chess again. My friend, Jim, and I used to play a lot, but then we stopped years ago around the time when we joined new companies, or something like that. Anyway, we decided to set aside some time each week to play a few games then go over them and run analysis software to learn a bit more. No idea if this is a good way to learn, but it's at least a fun way to go about it.

So, we played 3 games tonight (15 minute). I basically got lucky in a few key spots, and managed to win two of them. The one that I lost, I resigned after I was put in a hopeless spot after some miscalculation.

Well, there was one game that was actually really good. It was close for most of the way (even the analysis software said so!). That is, until I blundered and allowed Jim to give my King a nasty check. Here's the position after that "game-winning" check (I think it's still a game-winning move despite the ultimate outcome of the game).

In the actual game, I moved Kf8, which incidentally leads to a forced mate with White playing Rd7 (there is a straightforward mating sequence for both g6 and Re7). Lucky for me, Jim did not see this, and I went on to win despite missing a forced mate myself later in the game. It's awesome being mediocre.

But, that's not what I wanted to share about this position. It turns out that even if I had not walked into the forced mate position, the checking play is so good that I will actually lose my Queen following a really slick combination. So, Black must move Ke7 to avoid immediate loss. White starts the deadly attack with Re6+. Here's the position after that move.

King takes the Rook, and Queen takes the Rook back with check. The only move is Kd5. And, the lovely finish is Qg8+, which wins Black's Queen via an eventual skewer. Pretty sweet... too bad neither of us were good enough to actually play the game out to see this awesomeness unfold. Haha.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I really hope the two of us can keep it up. Maybe we will get better over time. I guess we'll see.

Spider Update

It has been almost 3 months since I caught my pet spider, Morgan. Morgan is alive and well, and eats a few crickets each week. Other than that, it pretty much walks around and chills all day.

Here's a close-up picture that I took today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Chess

Here are two positions from a couple recent games. One is from a normal game, and the other is from a speed game (5 minute). The speed one isn't really all that interesting, but it is a game where I am under a lot of time pressure, and proceed to choke horribly. The other one I thought was sort of cute, but not really all that impressive.

Okay, here's me playing the role of a choke artist. I am White, and I moved Qd7 to threaten mate at g7. My opponent (1560-rated Blitz player on FICS) 'blunders' by moving Rb7. I had expected him to push his pawn to f5, and instead of spending a little extra time to think about this and making the correct play, I panicked and retreated with Qd3. So, instead of having a relatively easy win (even with little time left), I ended up losing on time in a roughly even position five moves later. Blech, I suck!

Again, I'm White. It's my move, and I've got a nice combination from here, which leads to a huge material advantage (in 3 moves, worst case). I guess I'll leave it at that, but once you see it, I think you'll understand why I thought it was a little cute. I know a few of you have been IM'ing me about chess lately, which is great. And, some of you have already started playing again. I need to get better though... maybe, I'll start studying the game, but I really don't want a huge time suck on my hands.

Quick Trading Update

Sold some Apple (AAPL) $125 Feb puts (APVNE) at 1.80. I'm willing to allow some shares to be assigned to me on Friday if it comes to that. I guess we will see how shares trade in the next few days.

Also, the Google (GOOG) $480 Feb puts (GOPNI) I sold are very likely going to expire worthless. So, I probably won't have to close out the position. So, this trade turned out the best that it could. Yay!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Movie Quest Continues

I knocked out 5 more movies as I continue the Academy Award Winner quest. Now, I'm at 40 down, and only 40 more movies to achieve my goal. I have broken the halfway mark! Once I finish Gandhi (1982) and Ordinary People (1980), I'll have completed 1970-2006.

Here are the latest movies I saw and a brief bit about what I thought about each of them.

Driving Miss Daisy -- I was avoiding this movie for some reason. I guess the premise didn't interest me at all. But, now having watched it, I don't know why I didn't watch it sooner. I liked the movie quite a bit, and I feel that it's got sort of a timeless appeal going for it as well.

Not sure how to describe it other than it being a human story with a lot of warmth embedded within. The acting was fantastic, which really helped draw me into the deepening relationship between the two main characters. Anyway, if you want to watch a fine film with a simple, yet meaningful, story, watch it. It's really not as boring as you might have thought.

Terms of Endearment -- I also found this movie enjoyable. It's not nearly as good as Driving Miss Daisy, but I could really identify with the various characters' struggles for some odd reason. Weird, because I'm nothing like any of the characters. I'm not in a marriage fraught with infidelity, nor am I broke. I'm not an old man who needs to use my past accomplishments to score with the ladies, and I'm certainly not an old woman who has yet to open up sexually.

So many characters with so many different issues, yet each one of them has his or her own way to show their love and caring... I guess that's why the title is what it is. Though, I can definitely see why some people might call it cheesy. But, I did think it was a worthwhile viewing. The movie does a pretty good job mixing together serious (and potentially tear-jerking) stuff and funny stuff, which is a plus in my book. I can't say this movie is for everyone, so you'll have to figure out if it's for you or not.

Annie Hall -- I typically like Woody Allen, so when I say I had fun with the movie take it with a grain of salt. I don't see why this movie is of Oscar-winning quality, but it was a fun movie for sure. I felt some parts were hilarious, and the good thing was that the comedy wasn't over-the-top ridiculous. In case you have no idea what the movie is about (I know I didn't prior to watching it)... it's a story about the relationship of an oddly matched couple. Not sure I really have much more to say about it other than... go watch it if you like Woody Allen's humor.

Deer Hunter -- The GZA actually bought this movie for me as a gift long time ago, and I never got the chance to watch it (I suck as a friend). So what did I think of this movie... okay, this movie was really, really good. But, boy was it f'ed up. I mean it. It's a highly disturbing movie. I can't imagine how much more disturbing and utterly f'ed up it would be if I had watched it when it first came out not long after the conclusion of the Vietnam War. The movie really shows the extreme nature of war and what it can do to people. The movie is both horrifying and sad, and it definitely does not glorify war in any way. In fact, it does an amazing job at making war look incredibly ugly.

Patton -- Patton is a bad ass! I think that sums up the movie. Well, that and the idea that war geniuses can be nuts. I would not ever want to mess with Patton. He was portrayed as a serious war genius with a great deal of knowledge about history and culture. And, it was clear that he simply loved what he did. He absolutely loved war. He talks about killing thousands of enemies much like one would talk about scoring thousands of points in a video game. But, maybe that's what it takes to be an awesome war general.

Okay, so the movie was good, but it felt a bit long. I could cut out at least 30 minutes, if not more, from the movie, and not too much would be lost. There's an intermission in the film if that is any indication on the length. The story is engaging, and while you never get totally bored, there are some scenes that are drawn out just a bit too much. Perhaps it's done for artistic reasons; I have no idea. I'm usually not a fan of World War II movies, but this one was decent. I can't say I'd want to watch it again, but I didn't hate it.

More Chess -- Missed Mate

Well, I got my friend Womper to start playing again. We used to play a lot many years ago. Although he's a bit rusty, our games have produced a few complicated positions. Womper's not the only one that's a bit rusty though, as seen by this position from last night where I miss a forced mate.

I'm Black here, and it's my move. Post-game analysis concludes that I overlooked a Mate in 4. I'm posting the position here for anyone that wants to have a look. I'll post up the mating sequence as a comment in a few days if no one else does.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Mooing

It seems that the rain has gone away for a little while. But, the hills around my home have certainly come to life with all the water. The answer to the overgrowing vegetation problem is... COWS!

Here are a few pictures of cows munching on the greenery.

Some Chess

As many of you know I've been on a bit of a chess kick lately. I thought I'd share parts of two games I played recently. The first position isn't really all that interesting, except that it's an early game forced mate. My opponent missed the fact that I have a mate in 3, and so he did nothing to prevent it. The second position, however, is really a thing of beauty. Forgive me for tooting my own horn, but it's really rare for me to pull off such a combination.

I am White in both games. Oh, and just for those who are unfamiliar with chess notation... rows are denoted by numbers and columns are denoted by letters (order is from bottom to top and left to right, respectively, from White's view of the board).

Here is the mate in 3 position, only 13 moves into the game. Black has pushed his pawn to threaten the knight, but it guarantees White's victory. I won't say much more about it this one. Nothing too special, really. But, I thought it might be fun for those that don't really play too much to find the mating sequence.

This next one, I found a lot more interesting. And, maybe it is a lesson on why you shouldn't bring out your Queen too early. Some background... Black steals my pawn on b2, but he doesn't realize it is the start of a deadly combination. I follow with Rb1, which forces his Queen to a3 (the only safe spot for it). So, this is where we're at.

If you start looking a little bit deeper in this position, you will find that Black is in really bad shape. White has a strong move here. Knight to b5 is a huge winner. It is a sort of meta-fork. My Knight has forked Black's Queen as well as the threat of a King-Rook fork at c7.

Naturally, Black would want to save his Queen and prevent the c7 fork on his next move. On first blush, Black's obvious move would be Queen to c5 (note that a5 will not work, because the Bishop on d2 now covers it once the Knight has moved). The Queen is now safe, and the fork threat has been mitigated, as c7 is now covered. But, it turns out that it's all a big disaster for Black. The c7 fork can't be prevented without the loss of the Queen. Here's what the position looks like now.

If you want to think about this a bit, here's your chance. Otherwise, here we go on to see the rest of this combination unfold.

I move the Bishop to e3, which threatens his Queen. The Queen's only escape is to retreat to c8. But, it does her no good. Knight forks the King and Queen by taking the pawn on d6. And, that's the end of it.

In the actual game, however, my opponent sees that the Queen's retreat is futile, and opts to just take my Bishop with his Queen. He resigned a few moves later.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this. I'll probably post up more positions in the future, so long as I'm still semi-obsessed with the game. I really did forget how much I liked the game, so I'm glad to have started playing again.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Once In A Blue Paycheck

So, my buddy Dan brought something to my attention that was of numerically quirky interest. It turns out that for some people this year, February is a 3-paycheck month. This would happen if you're paid every other Friday, and your company's rotation is such that you were paid on the first Friday of the year. For those who were paid on the 2nd Friday of the year, you won't get to see your 3-paycheck February until 2036, a good 28 years from now.

This is an event that happens once every 56 years. Not quite a Halley's comet, but it is rarer than seeing a Blue Moon twice in a single year (approximately once every 19 years according to this site).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

Hope all of you Rats have a nice day... it's your year this time.

Our company is having a New Year's Dim Sum outing today. My mouth is watering already. I haven't had any good dim sum in quite some time.

And, I hope my Scrabble game from last night isn't a harbinger of things to come... I suffered a brutal loss 464-459. I misplayed the end slightly, but I don't feel too badly about my misplay since there was a good deal of time pressure. Here it is... ugh!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Quick Update

In the Trading Port... sold a single Google (GOOG) Feb $480 put at $9.70.

I do not plan on allowing the option to assign if the put ends up in the money (GOOG < $480 on Feb 15). This is simply a bet, and I will likely take gains/losses late next week. Effective break-even on expiration day is GOOG around $470.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cheating Post -- Professional View

A couple of days ago, I put up a post about a weight loss competition and whether or not a certain action was considered cheating. As of the time of this post, there were 4 that said it was cheating, and 2 that said it was not.

Anyway, I couldn't really let random blog readers be the ultimate judge, so I simultaneously sent the question to It's an awesome website with a ton of great answers to a wide range of questions. You all should check it out some time.

Here's what they had to say: Response

Snippet of the answer provided by a professional philosopher:

My answer is to think that there isn't an answer – at least not yet. One way to go would be to say that if someone could reasonably see the case as cheating (that applies here, I think), then count it as cheating. That's probably a good rule to use if you want to stay friends, but whether it's the answer is another matter. Worse, there will be cases where reasonable people can disagree about whether it's reasonable to see the case as cheating.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Funny Numbers

I came up with something semi-amusing while randomly chatting with a friend of mine. He's also a software guy. So, while this isn't much of a puzzle, the comedy is hidden from the casual observer (and, those who are number base-challenged).

Hippie Fun: 13,634,334
Hefner's Playground: 202,300,397
Oh, So Kinky: 2,774,264,533
Spoiled Mutton: 3,131,961,357
Helen Keller's Cow: 3,736,062,495
Office Sadness: 50,159,747,054
Southwestern Graffiti: 245,168,793,637,054

Is This Cheating?

My friend and I were debating about what is considered cheating and what would simply be considered unethical behavior. Suppose two people (call them A and B) were in a weight loss competition. Every Monday the two of them would weigh-in, and the first person to reach the target weight goal would win the contest.

Both of us agreed that the following would clearly be cheating:

a) Prior to weigh-in, A alters the mechanics of the scale resulting in a win for himself.

b) A slips some weight-gain contents into B's food without anyone else knowing.

And, we both agreed that the following would not be cheating:

a) A tells B that he has been eating a lot of fatty foods and has not been exercising lately. A has actually been eating healthy meals and also has been hitting the gym daily. The lie was told with the intention of lowering the sense of urgency and reduce the effort put forth by B.

Now, here is where we had a disagreement.

What if A invites B to get some fat-free coffee, but earlier in the day, A paid off the coffee barista so that B's "fat-free" coffee would actually include real creme and not skim milk? B accepts A's invitation, but he knows full well that they are in the middle of a competition. Would this be cheating on A's part, or would this merely constitute unethical behavior?

What do you think about A's action?
It is cheating.
It is not cheating.
It is too close to call.
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