vroman: Two words—rollover jackpots.
What if we phrase a Pascal’s Wager-like problem like this:
If every winner of a certain lottery receives $300 million, a ticket costs $1, the chances of winning are 1 in 250 million, and you can only buy one ticket, would you buy that ticket?
There’s a positive expected value in dollars, but 1 in 250 million is basically not gonna happen (to you, at least).
It can be defined by the net present value of the future dividends of the stock. Alternately, it can be determined by the per-share liquidation value of the company’s assets (after creditors are paid).
So if the stock does not pay dividends, and never will, and the corporation’s assets equal its liabilities, and always will, then the appropriate value of the stock is, in fact, zero? (Well, there are voting rights, but still...)
Doug: Sony loses money on every PS3, so it would be bad news if people bought them for FF and bought few other games; I don’t know how plausible that is.
Yeah, that would probably be bad, too; a PS3 sold that doesn’t generate much additional revenue is just a straight loss. On the other hand, once you’ve already decided to get the system because of the blockbuster title that you Need To Have, non-blockbuster games for the system become more attractive than they were before, so the pattern of “very few games” over the entire lifetime of the system isn’t really all that likely. In the short run, though, it could definitely be an issue. Personally, I currently have only two PS3 games: Disgaea 3, and Metal Gear Solid 4. I expect to get more eventually, but not for a while.
Once upon a time, I thought I saw some important news that should have affected a company’s stock price, as it would have led to significantly decreased demand for one of the company’s flagship products.
I looked at the stock price, and after the trade show in which the announcement was made, the value of the stock had, to my great surprise, actually increased.
That company was Sony. The announcement was that Final Fantasy XIII would no longer be a Playstation 3 exclusive; its English version would also be released for the Xbox 360. As a game player, I knew that Final Fantasy was a game series that was popular enough to drive sales of whatever console it was available for, regardless of its other merits. However, this announcement meant that many people who might have bought a Playstation 3 would no longer do so. As the original Playstation and the Playstation 2 were one of Sony’s largest revenue sources, further bad news regarding the the Playstation 3′s future should have negatively affected its stock price. Why didn’t it?
I came up with three guesses:
1) Average stock traders don’t know as much as I do about the video game market. This is possible, but “Hey, Sony just lost its exclusive Killer App!” should be something that anyone actually paying attention should notice—stock traders aren’t that stupid, are they?
2) Sony is a huge conglomerate. It sells so many other products that bad news in one area either just didn’t matter (nobody expected the Playstation 3 to sell as many units as its earlier versions, for the simple reason that it was much more expensive) or it was outweighed by good news about other markets, such as digital cameras.
3) There is some other explanation, which I have not yet thought of.
But clearly that person does not likewise think that the price of OB is going to go way up, because if she did, why would she sell it to you now, at the current price?
Maybe she needs to increase liquidity for some reason? For example, the IRS wants payment in cash, not stock. Additionally, she might want to use the resources for immediate consumption rather than for investments; she might want to use the cash to take a vacation, or pay medical bills. There are all sorts of reasons why someone might want to sell a stock, even if they think it will go up.
(Myself, I sort of suspect that, if a stock doesn’t pay dividends, it’s mostly worthless. To quote some guy with a blog:
If you put your Mickey Mantle rookie card on your desk, and a share of your favorite non-dividend paying stock next to it, and let it sit there for 20 years. After 20 years you would still just have two pieces of paper sitting on your desk.)
I’ve heard (secondhand) stories about people being inspired to enter technical fields because of the television program Square One.
What if, realistically, your plan turns out to be “Do nothing of consequence, and let my successor deal with the mess?” You probably don’t want to actually tell people that, even if that’s the way the incentives turn out. (For example, my father works for a company that recently fired its CEO, after some decisions he made turned out to be disastrous. Unfortunately, according to the CEO’s contract, they had to give him a huge severance package if they fired him. Ergo: the company is screwed, but he isn’t.)
I wonder… are the works of Karl Marx idealistic, cynical, or both?
Regarding Judiasm: my father had a similar experience as a child. He assumed that the Hebrew passages he was given must have been great and profound because, well, they came from God. When he finally did read a translation, he was annoyed because they were the kind of stupid banalities that any idiot could have thought up. (My father is an atheist.)
See also Family Unfriendly Aesop, Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
I suspect that the folktale I posted isn’t representative of Russian folkore; I had a hard time tracking it to its source (Aleksandr Afanasev), and, yes, it doesn’t seem to be reprinted very often. Other Russian folktales I read in the process of looking for this one usually have happier endings in which justice is indeed served.
I’m also not so sure that this folktale wouldn’t be at home alongside Aesop’s fables.
Incidentally, Russia, too, has a tradition of similarly horrible folktales. This is a variation on one of them:
Old Favors are Soon Forgotten
Running from the hunters, a wolf came across a peasant and asked the man to hide him in his bag. The man agreed, and when the hunters asked him if he’d seen the wolf, he said no. Once they were gone, the peasant let the wolf out of his bag. The wolf said, “Thank you for hiding me. And now I will devour you.” The man cried, “Wait! I just saved your life.” And the wolf said, “Old favors are soon forgotten.”
The peasant despaired, knowing he couldn’t escape the wolf, but in desperation begged the wolf to walk with him down the path and ask the next three people they met if old favors were soon forgotten. If they agreed, the peasant promised he would submit and let the wolf devour him.
They came across an old dog first, and asked him if old favors were soon forgotten. The dog thought a moment, then said, “I worked hard for my master for twenty years, jumping at his every command, and protecting his family. However, once I became too old to work, he drove me out of his house. Yes, old favors are soon forgotten.”
The wolf smiled unpleasantly, but the peasant reminded him that there were two more people to ask. Next, they met an old swayback horse on the path, and asked her if old favors were soon forgotten. She thought a moment, and answered, “I carried my master for twenty long years, bearing his weight gladly and serving him well. But when I got too old to carry him further, he drove me out into the world to die. Yes, old favors are soon forgotten.”
The wolf capered with joy and licked his chops, but the peasant led him on down the path until they came to a fox. When they asked her if old favors were soon forgotten, she frowned and thought hard. Finally, she asked how they came to ask the question, and they told her how the peasant had hid the wolf in his bag. She shook her head. “I don’t believe that large wolf fit in your small bag.” And, though they swore it was true, she would not accept their word until the wolf climbed into the bag to prove it. Then she ordered the peasant to quickly tie up the bag and beat it with his stick. He gave the trapped wolf a good drubbing, then swung his stick around, hitting the fox in the head and killing her, saying, “Old favors are soon forgotten.”
The story specifically asks a question that none of the commenters have addressed yet.
“So,” the Lord Pilot finally said. “What kind of asset retains its value in a market with nine minutes to live?”
My answer: Music.
If your world is going to end in nine minutes, you might as well play some music while you wait for the inevitable.
Short story collections, perhaps? If you’ve never read, say, “The Last Question”, it would be your last chance. (And if you’re reading this now, and you haven’t read “The Last Question” yet, then something has gone seriously wrong in your life.)
See the follow-up here.
(If a dust speck is zero, you could substitute “stubbed toe”.)
Incidentally, my own answer to the torture vs. dust specks question was to bite the other bullet and say that, given any two different intensities of suffering, there is a sufficiently long finite duration of the greater intensity such that I’d pick a Nearly Infinite duration of the lesser degree over it. In other words, yeah, I’d condemn a Nearly Infinite number of people to 50 years of slightly less bad torture to spare a large enough finite group from 50 years of slightly worse torture.
In real life, I consider myself lucky that questions like that one are only hypothetical.
“But I’m having trouble figuring out the superhappys. I can think of a story with rational and emotional protagonists, a plot device relating to a ‘charged particle’, and the story is centered around a solar explosion (or risk of one). That story happens to involve 3 alien genders (rational, emotional, parental) who merge together to produce offspring.”
The story you’re thinking of is The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, the middle section of which stars the aliens you describe.
Do the Super Happies already know where the human worlds are (from the Net dump), or are they planning on following the human ship back home?
The Super Happies hate pain, and seeing others in pain causes them to experience pain. Humans tolerate pain better than the Super Happies do. This gives the humans a weapon to use against them, or at least negotiating leverage. They can threaten to hurt themselves unless the Super Happies give them a better deal.
(So, in order to unlock the True Ending, do we have to come up with a way for the humans to “win” and get what they want, alien utility functions be damned, or should we take the aliens’ preferences into account too?)
Beer on the job at software companies?
I’m shocked, too, and I’m almost old enough to have worked at one of those places...