Why I don’t vote

November 8, 2006

Every election season, I am bombarded with requests from friends/acquaintances/random strangers who tell me that I need to vote.  However, deciding to vote is irrational.  Here’s why:

  • Your vote counts, but it doesn’t matter.  Election irregularities aside, the probability of your vote being the deciding vote is essentially 0.  Thus, voting has no affect on the outcome of an election.  Of course, the classic counterargument is: “Well, if everyone thought that way…”, but most people don’t, so as an individual decision, voting is a waste of time.
  • Not voting doesn’t cause any harm.  What negative externalities are caused by my not voting?  People claim low voter turnout rates are bad, because the elections don’t reflect the will of the people, but why do I want the apathetic to vote?  Moreover, my not voting actually empowers the people who do decide to go to the ballot boxes – their votes are worth slightly more now.

Are there any set of circumstances that would lead me to actually vote?  Well, based on the above, if almost everybody decided they weren’t going to vote this year, I’d vote, because then my vote would actually matter.


Avoiding RSI

October 29, 2006

Sitting in front of a computer all day can certainly take its toll.  For the past year and a half or so, I suffered from symptoms commonly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome — tingling/stiffness in the fingers, pain in the wrists.  This isn’t a good situation for anyone who needs to type for a living!

So I experimented with different strategies for getting rid of the pain: doing crazy ergonomic stretches during the day, using different kinds of mice and mouse pads, taking frequent breaks, sitting up straighter…nothing really worked.

Until I got the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.  I had tried an earlier Microsoft Natural keyboard before at Amazon, but it didn’t help, so I was skeptical.  But the good news is, after using it for a couple of weeks, I feel fine again.

The two best features of the keyboard are the tilt and the cushioned palm rests.  The front of the keyboard has an optional platform which tilts the keyboard, giving it a slight reverse slope.  The wristpads have a comfortable faux leather padding, which is nice when you code 12 hours a day.  Then there are a bunch of other features I don’t use, such as the Zoom Slider or the My Favorites keys.  Overall, it’s a great product and has made my life much more comfortable.

Krispy Kreme + In N Out

September 10, 2006

…produces this delicious creation. Gross.

Being Quoted in the Media

August 26, 2006

I notice my name has been in the Stanford Daily nine times during my stay there. Seems like I was really on something in 2004…

The best one is still this one, however.

No more soda…

May 4, 2006

Soda's out, juice in at public schools

I remember my high school days. Pretty much every day for lunch, I would have a slice of Bruno's pizza and a can of Pepsi. I knew how to diversify, too — some days I'd opt instead for Domino's cheesebread or a McDonald's sausage biscuit as the entree. It's amazing to think of the crap kids put in their bodies, and it's encouraging that schools and soft drink manufacturers are finally making a change. It seems like conventional wisdom these days that soda-pop is unhealthy, so I wonder what it took to actually create change?

Project n^2: Network and Asking for Support

April 12, 2006

The way I've approached analyzing my network is still in progress. I've tried drawing out some of my network:

 My Network
I have however, began asking for support. What I did was create a Facebook group where I'd explain to people that I'm taking this class, and that I'd like their support. All I ask is for them to join the group and if they want, post a message explaining what fads they're currently into.

At first, I personally asked people to join. Here's a copy of an e-mail I sent out to a few friends:

Subj: Help!

Hey everybody,

I'm taking a class titled ME 228: Creating Infectious Action, which is all about studying and executing efforts to spread behavior. My first assignment is to identify my network and ask for some support. So what I've done is create a Facebook group called: "Infectious Action", and all I want is for you to join it. If you could take even a little more of your time and describe what fads you're currently caught up in, that'd be even better. I'll also be sending you Facebook invites, just to make it a little easier.



Another approach I used was to message people on AIM. Typically, a conversation would go as follows:

me: hey _____, may i ask for a super small favor? it's painless i swear

friend: sure, what's up?

me: so i'm in this class called Creating Infectious Action, which is about how trends and fads start

me: and my first assignment is to analyze my network and ask people for support

me: so i created a facebook group, and if you could join it and maybe post a message about what fads you're interested in, i would appreicate it. I'll send the invite now.
friend: sure, no problem

Both approaches worked well, and I got up to about 20 members this way, and quite a few of them posted on the message board. My next technique is to actually just send the invite on Facebook without "asking for a favor" first. This seems to be cheapest way to do this, and hopefully since it's just a Facebook Group invite, it won't piss anybody off.

Edit: As of 1:56PM, my Facebook group has 60 members and 23 comments on the message board.  So far, what I've concluded is that I get a better yield when I personally ask someone to join the group and explain why I'm doing this.  However, this takes more time.  It's cheaper for me to just send Facebook invites and hope that they read the group description and are compelled to join.  However, when sending Facebook invites, I get a lower yield (not sure what %, since Facebook doesn't report any data back to me, and I didn't record how many I sent out), and of those who do join, less are likely to actually post something.   Another drawback of using Facebook is that only people who are within my college network can actually join the group.  I knew this when I created the group, but I figured asking people to join a Facebook group would be an innocent enough request.  Furthermore, my Stanford network consists of the connections I eventually want to leverage the most, so I might as well learn more about this set of people.