Captain Morgan Consulting LLC Internal Style Guide

freightTrainWrite like a freight train.

Try to remove “that,” “had” or any of its derivatives. “You’ll find that you can often live without them.” vs. “You’ll find you can often live without them.”

Actually, remove every word you can. You can live without them.

When possible, place adjectives and adverbs before the words they modify. Be on a continuing mission to boldly split infinitives which have never been split before.

A colorful word is better than a colored word. When possible, replace adjectives with meaningful nouns and adverbs with meaningful verbs. “It’s a big mess.” vs. “It’s a debacle.” “Fournette ran hard through the line.” vs. “Fournette muscled through the line.”

Deliberately use adverbs. Long, descriptive, meaningful chains of modifiers can subtly and delightfully overwhelm the reader’s working memory. If you want your readers to process with abundant attention, dutifully remove adverbs. If you want your readers to be gleefully hypnotized, happily unpack your favorite adjectives and adverbs. Continue reading →

Super Bowl Calibration Post

Now that football’s over, I’m about to enter my annual “What should I do with my weekends?” phase. Before that, I’d like to revisit my predictions under the cold light of morning (but not the blue light of mourning). If you’re not interested in the Super Bowl, here’s a video of a Superb Owl. More math posts are on the way.

On January 27th I wrote a six point list entitled “Reasons the Pats will win.” Let’s see how I did in hindsight. Continue reading →

The Sleeping Beauty Problem

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Image credit: http://yourpsychotherapist.deviantart.com/

There’s an old fairy tale from Probabilia. Like all good Probabilian fairy tales, it has fair coins, maidens and -y godmothers to save us from monsters.

Sleeping Beauty volunteered for an experiment. On Sunday night she went to bed. On Monday, a fair coin was flipped. If the coin comes up heads, then sleeping Beauty is woken on Tuesday. If the coin comes up tails, then Sleeping Beauty is woken on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Whenever she is woken up, she is given a drug that prevents her from forming any memories, so whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday, it’ll feel like it’s the first time she’s woken up. On Thursday, the experiment ends, and she continues on her way.

Whenever she is awoken, Sleeping Beauty is asked “what is the probability the coin came up heads?”

If you were Sleeping Beauty, how would you answer?

That’s confusing, so click this picture to embiggen a diagram.

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There’s one school of thought, “the halfer position,” which claims that she should always answer 50%. That was her belief before the experiment, and she was given no new information on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. (See this paper by David Lewis, Trigger Warning: PDF). To guess anything other than 50% feels like getting something for nothing.

But in a very real way, the halfer position is very wrong. Two times out of three, the right answer will be tails. If Sleeping Beauty were to make bets about the outcome of the coin toss, she would lose money if she believed the halfer position, and if probability theory doesn’t help us win money, then what’s the point? Continue reading →

STATism: An Alternative to Democracy

I want to feel young again, so I designed a wildly unrealistic form of government that will likely never be implemented. Democracies and democratic republics (“democracies”) have been around for thousands of years. Counting the votes for each side isn’t a bad way to decide who should have power, but with the latest advances in math and machine learning, we should be able to do better. To make things confusing for libertarians, I’m going to call my system “STATism.”

I encourage you to read this as political science fiction rather than as a serious proposal. Continue reading →

Bama Hate Week

ReidAs you may know, Louisiana celebrates “Bama Hate Week” in the first week of November. LSU fans like myself make mundane observations followed by an expression of their hatred.

“I saw a red flower today. This reminds me of how much I hate Bama.”

The more mundane the observation, the more encompassing the hatred.

This sermon sprung, fully formed into my head this morning. I have a responsibility to share it. More posts on math will come eventually.

I don’t know much about love, but let me tell you something about hate.

Hate is focus. Hate is motivation. Hate is the slow curdling of hormones at the back of the skull. Hate is not accepting your place in the world and striving to better yourself.

When love fades, it turns to hatred. What hatred fades, it turns to indifference.

I don’t know why anyone would choose to hate, but I know why someone would choose to love. We love out of fear. Fear of growing old. Fear of being alone. Fear of capitulating to wear and tear. Love is a desperate scheme to preserve our essence so it can hate in the next generation. Love is an acknowledgment and an acceptance of death.

Love may have its place, but the Mongols, Vikings, Macedonians and Victorians didn’t conquer the world out of love. True, they accepted the burdens of leadership, but it was pure hatred that initially drove the armies forward.

No one wants you to hate. They want you to find love. They want you to accept your lot in life and quietly surrender to fate. I don’t know if you deserve to be loved, but there are those who deserve your hatred.

This is Bama Hate Week. Hate Bama with all your heart, mind and soul.

Hate Red. Live Gold.

Forever LSU.