Going to Yale, well twice anyway

Game Theory class at Yale. Look here.

Getting ducks in a row... freedigitalphotos
Getting ducks in a row... freedigitalphotos

By end of class 1, here was the game:

“Without showing your neighbor what you’re doing, put in the box below a whole number between 1 and a 100 [whole number between 1 and 100–integer.] We will calculate the average number chosen in the class. The winner in this game is the person whose number is closest to two-thirds times the average in the class.” [Again: the winner is the person whose number is closest to two-thirds times the average number in the class.] The winner will win $5 minus the difference in pennies between her choice and that two-thirds of the average.”

Rules are:

(from the class transcript:)

“Before you go I want five things from you. I want to know the five lessons from this class. Tell me what you learnt? What were the five lessons? Without looking at your notes, what were the five lessons? Anybody, shout out one of the lessons, yes madam.

Student: Don’t play a strictly dominated strategy.

Professor Ben Polak: Don’t play a strictly dominated strategy, anything else? Yes sir.

Student: Yale students are evil.

Professor Ben Polak: Yale students are evil. Two lessons down, three to go. The guy over here.

Student: Rational choices can lead to bad outcomes.

Professor Ben Polak: Rational choices can lead to bad outcomes. We put it more graphically before but that’s fine. Two more outcomes.

Student: Put yourself in other people’s shoes.

Professor Ben Polak: Put yourself in other people’s shoes and I’m missing one, I can’t recall which one I’m missing now.

You could but it’s a good idea to figure out what you want before you try and get what you want.

The basic game plan:

1. Figure out a strategy that is going to bring you out on top

2. In this particular classroom, know that everyone else is coming from that position.

3. Rational choices can lead to bad outcomes (when everyone is being rational, it’s harder to win)

4. Think about what your opponent is thinking, knowing he/she is rational, too.

5. Figure out what you want before you try to get what you want

Sono, an unpublished dream

los venduros puodo the vendor I

In my dream, I was trying to learn Spanish, and I was the only one not getting it. There was a book, but I couldn’t read it. I didn’t even know what page the words were on, and no one would tell me. Everyone was impatient because I could not learn.


I could not hear the words. I could not see the words. I tried to write them down, but I didn’t have them right, and in a dream, it’s hard to make them stay on the page.

And, even when I am awake, I can’t read my handwriting, anyway.

Everyone else was learning organically. I could not. I do not learn by immersion. I learn by seeing, hearing, reading. But wait a minute. Isn’t that immersion?

So, what do I need?

A book.

I need to know what page the words are on.

I need to see the sentence of Spanish words.

I need to know the translation.

Give me a book. Tell me where in the book we are reading. Where is the sentence? And I can see it. Read it. Force myself to remember it.

Next morning, I don’t remember the exact words in my dream. There were two sentences. I looked up the words I recall and they are not words.

Aquí está la ropa. que estén limpias. Here are the clothes. They are clean.

It gets stranger

Last night’s Nightmare.

I was in bed, flipping inattentively through a catalogue. I put it down. “Hey,” I heard a little voice say.

It was coming from the catalogue. I glanced over. “Now that I have your attention, I can continue…” the little voice said.

Amused, I watched as the catalogue’s pages turned.

One of the pages tore.

“You are going too fast,” I said. “Slow down.”

A page ripped out. “Turn over,” I said.

When I went to reach for the catalogue, wanting to take a closer look at its intriguing items and clothing, a woman approached me with a catalogue in her hand. “Here, give me that one and take this one,” she said.

“No. I want this one,” I told her, holding the catalogue against me.

“All the items are the same,” she insisted, grabbing me. “Don’t make me do this!”

“Young woman,” I said. “Take your hands off me.”

I was becoming fearful, but resolute. All I had to do was wake up to win this battle.

Which I did.

In the corner of my bedroom, on the ceiling, was a small box about five inches by three inches.

Coming from the box was a tube that extended within inches of my head. As I watched the tube retracted, telescoping back into the box, then the box slipped through the wall. Of course, I no longer had the catalogue. Who won?

What goes around comes around

Who is Win Wenger? I found him by accident last night — in one of those emails I have subscribed to and usually don’t read anymore (this one was from Mark Joyner and the subject line read “Awaken your brain in 30 seconds.”

Ok, I thought. Let’s see what he’s up to.

Here’s part of what was in the email:

“Now, if you’re looking for a quick fix, here’s what
you do.

“This is a technique taught by Win Wenger …

“It’s simple: close your eyes and visualize in your mind that your head is about one inch bigger all around than it is.

“Actually *see* this in your mind’s eye.

“If you hold this image in your head for about 30 seconds straight it sends your nervous system a signal to pump more oxygen to your brain.

“It’s a bizarre “brain hack,” but it’s actually measurable via CT scan.

“People who try it usually experience a sense of heightened alertness on the first try. (if it didn’t work – try a few times – really *see* your head as
being larger in your mind’s eye).

“Wow! Remind me not to do this again before bedtime!

This morning, after a truly strange “sleep,” I reread the email and saw that Mark attributed this to Win Wenger. I looked him up and see that he is working on something that he calls “Project Renaissance.” There are even job openings for writers. I skip around, and come to his bio. At the end I come to “…Win Wenger and his wife, Susan — herself the author of The Better Baby Book…”

Yikes, I remember her. I took her course and did her flash cards for Aimee 28 years ago! The math series contained cards with red dots up to 100, I think. You say a number, and your 8-month-old (or younger) crawls over and picks up the right card. Aimee was pretty good at it — and she’s still good at math!