4-18-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How Likely Was It Meant to Be Easy?

Amateur mathematician Brian Hayes makes a flow chart from a tax form that is so confusing one has to see it to believe it. He then asks:

What are the chances that I correctly followed all the steps of this algorithm? What are the chances that the published algorithm correctly implements the intent of the tax code?
Our laws improperly and unreasonably make so many things crimes that ordinary people can't tell whether they are acting legally at any given moment. In light of that fact, the answers to his respective questions are plausibly, "very low" and "very high". This state of affairs reminds me of the following passage from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted -- and you create a nation of law-breakers -- and then you cash in on guilt. (p. 406)
Until and unless more Americans decide they have had enough, and serious momentum builds behind overhauling our systems of taxation and regulation on the way to abolishing them, we have a problem: We will continue jumping through hoops to abide by complicated laws while any government official could plausibly cause us legal problems on a whim.

Weekend Reading

"If this attitude could talk, it might say, 'I ordered the steak. I liked it a lot, but I'm worried that the chicken might have been better.'" -- Michael Hurd, in "Is 'Good Enough' Good Enough?" at The Delaware Wave

"People who buy into the 'zero sum' idea get in their own way far more often than they are victims of others." -- Michael Hurd, in "The Antidote to Envy" at The Delaware Coast Press

From Apple, a Free Lesson on Managing Expectations

The following comes from a review of the Apple watch, written by a loyal Apple customer:
You can see pixels. You can see a bit of an airgap between the digital screen and the glass. Nothing is as sharp as I thought it would be. To be honest, this was a huge letdown. I was getting myself psyched up for the Apple Watch by looking at photos and watching videos on Apple's Website, but in reality, it didn't meet my expectations. Apple didn't underpromise and overdeliver, they did the opposite.
I'm sure Apple will survive this marketing gaffe, but it blows my mind that such a successful company could make such a basic mistake.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Dear uncle Gus,

I think you should go take a look at the watches and make an opinion for yourself. The quality of the pictures in the article you mentioned look kind of crappy (compare to this one for example: https://instagram.com/p/2EG-GLiB4E/ ). Are they like that on purpose?


Gus Van Horn said...


Based on your photo, at least part of that customer's case that Apple overhyped its watch may well be flawed. If that's the case, then perhaps Apple didn't make the mistake he alleges, and if not, good for them.

As for whether the photos were done badly on purpose, I have no idea. Perhaps the author is a bad photographer.

In any event, thanks for making another customer's photos available here.