I Can Haz Romney

I, like most people, am not an American citizen and never plan on living in the United States of America. Even still, it is deemed important for informed citizens of the world to maintain an opinion and organise preferences with regard to American politics, and especially the quadrennial presidential election. Despite this,  I can honestly say that it doesn’t bother me too much who wins a US presidential election. I follow the media coverage of course, and check out the latest opinion polls, so obviously there is some degree of attention paid. Like most Europeans I would like Obama to win. I would compare this preference however to a recent World Cup final, where I had a preference for Holland, but Spain eventually ran out winners in extra time. I was down for a few minutes, but after that I just forgot about it. I may be naive and inconsiderate, but I just don’t think the results of American elections affect me as much as many would have us believe. I do however maintain an interest in tracking the nature of election campaigns around the world, and the United States Presidential Elections are always on the cutting edge of this particular topic.  As I have mentioned, I don’t care too much about American politics, so I state here explicitly that I write in this post about The Election Campaign, and not partisan politics in the USA.

The reason I don’t care too much about the results of this election is that I consider myself a political realist. Political scientists reading this will question how I plan on explaining this, but I boil this down to one particular aspect of realism: that in politics, interests are favoured over values. With this logic, Obama and Romney both preach from a pulpit about the particular values that their America will possess in the future. Romney appeals to conservative values, while Obama maintains a liberal, progressive rhetoric and policy standpoints that appeal to liberal values. These appeals-to-values evoke emotive, fanatical following amongst the supporters of both candidates. However, both of these candidates have made policy promises that align with the wishes of those whose support has been tapped. Both Romney and Obama have implied that they will give certain things to certain groups of people in the event of a successful election campaign. In this way, the values that politicians align themselves with are often really just smokescreens for promising rewards to voters who will make the difference in the next election.

When put this way, I do not see much difference between Mitt Romneys much-publicized private speech praising the wealthy, and President Obamas recent revelation that he favours gay marriage. Both candidates were appealing (and making promises) to those that are most likely to vote for them, in order to make sure that this support is maintained throughout the election. I am not saying that Obama or Romney are bad people, or that the opinions they express in public are not their own. I am simply saying that in Realist theory, these opinions would take a very secondary role to acquiring the support of those needed to ensure success in an election. This is, of course, not saying anything with regard to my personal opinion about these topics, and purely from an objective standpoint. That is also partisan politics, which is not the subject of this post.

As mentioned previously, I have maintained an interest in presidential election campaigns throughout the years, and particularly in the use of new media in these campaigns. This blog owes its existence to the blogging phenomenon which surrounded Vote 2004, where canny political advisors encouraged young interns to detail online their daily idealistic, enthusiastic experiences on the campaign trail. By Vote 2008, journalists were in love with Barack Obama because of his omnipresent Blackberry and associated tweeting.  Election 2012 can only be described as the Campaign of the Meme. This became apparent after the Republican National Congress where Clint Eastwoods speech was used to launch the “#emptychair” hashtag on Twitter, prompting millions of Democrats to ridicule the idea online, and millions of Republicans to engage the idea and ask Obama questions using the hashtag.

The Eastwood Empty Chair speech was ridiculous, of course, as how is it fair to have one of the most popular entertainers in America stand in front of millions of people and blatantly mock the sitting president with questions he is not physically able to answer? This was the depths that the Republican Party had plummeted to, it seems. An unequivocal cultural institution (Eastwood) brought out to demolish an invisible incumbent. This was how it seemed, until the other side entered the game and we saw Samuel L. Jackson, an icon of liberal cool, appealing to Americas voters by scaring them to “wake up and vote”, albeit with more explicit language. This video was also explicitly anti-Romney, but conspicuous in its absence of official support from the Democratic party. In a two-party system however, condemning one candidate is the equivalent of endorsing the other. Similarly Joss Whedon, an icon of alternative, intelligent, American, creative entertainment,  recently starred in a video implying that a Romney victory would inspire a Zombie Apocalypse. All of this is very funny, however it adds little more to the political debate than Eastwood did with his empty chair. Similarly, there is no difference between these pro-Obama videos and the much-ridiculed pro-Romney videos by Chuck Norris. They are all tools of campaign politics designed to manipulate fans of these celebrities into voting for their candidate. What is interesting is that those on either side of the campaign ridicule the others political memes, whereas they are identical in every way except for the political message entailed, and what that message means for that particular individual. That is back to politics, however.

In Europe, deprived of consistent information about partisan politics in the United States, we are slaves to the rhetoric and memes thrown at us by these elections. In addition to this, in American movies and TV shows there is an undoubted leaning towards the Democratic party. While party affiliations are never stated explicitly, ‘good’ presidents and politicians are bathed in blue and speak liberal ideals, while ‘corrupt’, “shady” presidents and politicians are awash in red and rendezvous with gentlemen speaking in affluent Southern accents. This doesn’t account for everything, but most of us outside America are automatically conditioned to support the Democratic candidate as a result of this. This should be taken into account by Americans discussing politics with Europeans, as we are somewhat subliminally biased, and our preference for the Democratic Party is not always based on rationality.

Campaigns that resemble that which has just transpired will hopefully somewhat alleviate the effects of such cultural brainwashing. I remember a friend telling me a few years ago that when he was in the Philippines during a local election, the candidates first had a debate on issues, and then were required to sing a karaoke song in public as part of the electoral process. Generally it was the candidate who performed best in the latter event that eventually won the election. I remember laughing at this when I heard it, however now I do not see much difference between this karaoke and the celebrity meme culture that has dominated this election campaign. The line I remember most from The West Wing, itself a love letter to the Democrats, was an admission of regret by President Bartlett and his Chief of Staff about the limits of campaign politics and promises: ‘You campaign in poetry, and you rule in prose’. What worries me is that if what they are saying in this current campaign is the poetry, then what can we expect from the prose?

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Discriminomics

A previous post answered a question that I am often asked when I tell people about my research, namely: how can one be an economist without focusing specifically on money? In that post I also mentioned that my research is based on discrimination, and that people always wonder what that has to do with economics. Discrimination is an emotive subject, one that inspires strong personal feelings for most people (hopefully against it). Such passionate issues surely have no place in the cold, stoic field of economics. Fortunately, economists have worked out ways to remove all of this passion and emotion from the subject and analyse it as an issue like any other. First of all, discrimination is not sexism, nor racism. It is not a woman getting sexually harassed in the office. It is not Roma being repatriated to Romania from France. Discrimination in the sense used in economics, is simply treating one group differently from another. This word ‘treating’ is ambiguous, since it is difficult to quantify. Therefore a place of interaction is needed , in order to provide information about how one group is treated differently from another. The best place to do this is a place where people are traded for different prices, according to their specific characteristics. In the absence of an actual slave market, researchers in economics settle for the labour market, where employers buy and sell employees on an unimaginable scale all over the world.  There are two main theories in economics about why employers discriminate against one group of employees in favour of another, ‘Taste for Discrimination’ and ‘Statistical Discrimination’. My research centres on gender discrimination, so I will focus on this.

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The theory of ‘taste for discrimination’ is fundamentally an argument based on the flawed nature of humanity. Some people just don’t like certain people, for no apparent reason. One could also argue from an evolutionary perspective that we are conditioned to be wary of those who are different from us. This argument would be more relevant to discussions about racial discrimination, but it is still applicable to gender discrimination. As many men and women will know, a substantial percentage of each gender mistrusts the other, for various reasons. Unfortunately for women (although this is definitely changing), employers are mostly men. For whatever ill-conceived reason, an employer may be a gender-discriminating employer. Therefore when considering equally qualified male and female candidates for a job opening, the employer will always choose the male candidate. The reason for this is that because of the employers ‘taste’ for discrimination, hiring the woman would ‘cost’ more to him (assuming the employer is male) than hiring the man, if there is equal pay across genders.  If he hired the woman, he would have to endure the hardship of her presence alongside paying her a monthly wage. Therefore, the only way the woman is hired for the job is if the employer pays her less than he would have paid the man. So much less so that it compensates for the burden of her daily presence. Yes, this is a real, respected academic theory that attempts to explain why women are paid less than men.

Statistical discrimination is much easier to understand, as while the previous theory was grounded in base humanity, this one is based on the dark side of another inescapable fact of modern life: capitalism. Capitalism favours profit above all else, and therefore from an employer’s perspective the best workforce is the workforce that generates the most profit. It is difficult to quantify the contribution of most employees to the profit of an enterprise, and therefore certain substitute statistics must be used instead. As with the ‘taste’ exposition, we have to imagine a decision from an employer about hiring a similarly qualified man or woman for a job. Each looks like a worthy employee, however a tiebreaker is needed. It is proven statistically that women take more sick days than men over the course of a year (really). Mostly this has been attributed to menstruation (seriously, there are studies done on this), however it still affects productivity, and therefore profits for the employer. Similarly and more obviously, the woman will more than likely take a career break, with pay, during her time employed in the available position, as a result of maternity leave and its associated regulation. A profit maximising employer, in the absence of regulation, will always hire the male candidate in this case. Unless of course he can hire the female candidate for a lower wage that would mitigate his risk of hiring a potentially profit-sapping employee.

While theories are interesting to formulate, what economists are really interested in is how to empirically measure an issue under analysis. Both of the discussions on theories above ended with an explanation for why women are paid less than men. This is because from the beginning, researchers are set with the task of explaining why and ultimately quantifying how much women are paid less than men, the highly publicised Gender Wage Gap. The gender wage gap quantifies the difference between what a man is paid and what a similarly qualified women is paid, in a similar occupation. This research has informed governments all over the world, and led to numerous policies being enacted in order to rectify these labour market malfunctions. Equal opportunity laws, gender quotas, affirmative action have all been justified in debates due to the work of labour economists working in the area of discrimination. Economists, while seen as cold and stoic, can also add much-needed weight to the argument of emotive subjects. This does however lead to those economists stripping the subject down to its bones, and of everything that made it so emotive in the first place. The justification for this is simple, as economics aims to describe the world as it actually is, as opposed to as it should be. In this sense everything I have written in this post is Positive, as opposed to Normative. In economics therefore, positive research is undertaken in order to inform policy advice for those normative few who wish to change the world into the way it should be.

Did South Park Lower The Bar?

Catching up on the new series of South Park this week, there was a part of one of the episodes that really struck me and got me thinking. This is unusual for South Park, which although quite intelligent when at its best, usually fades from the mind once the show is over. The episode was about falling cultural standards, and included James Cameron searching on the deep sea floor for the metaphorical ‘bar’ which has been lowered to such extreme depths in modern society. During the climax of the episode, there is a short scene between Stan and Kyle, played as an aside to the main action, where Kyle begins to question whether it was ‘us’ who lowered the bar. This little aside is significant, as ever since the beginning of South Park these two characters have been the representatives of the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. While Stan and Kyle have crazy familys and often get caught up in fantastic situations, they are both normal, grounded kids growing up in a world they can’t control, wondering why insane things always happen in their small town. Trey’s parents, like Stan’s, are Randy and Sharon. Kyle is Jewish, like Matt Stone, and both their respective parents are Gerald and Sheila. So in the scene mentioned above, the creators of South Park ask themselves if they have helped lower the bar, allowing popular entertainment to sink to lower and lower depths. They do have a point.

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When South Park first came along in 1997, the show was very controversial due to its foul language and more importantly, children using foul language. Animated children swearing doesn’t seem too risqué nowadays, but when it first appeared in Europe as an American import, it brought along news articles from tabloid and broadsheet newspapers detailing its depravity, and the effect it could have on YOUR children. Animated shows aimed at adults were rare back then (in English speaking countries, anyway), with The Simpsons the only one to break into the mainstream at the time. Therefore when any adult cartoon appeared, the view was that children would end up watching it and see things they shouldn’t. The same is true for any show of course, animated or not, but South Park did make it very easy for the critics. The show was very different when it first began, with much more needless swearing and plots which seemed to exist only to see how low, degraded and disgusting the characters could get. In the first episode, the kids swear a lot, and then Cartman gets an anal probe. In other episodes Barbra Streisand shows up and attempts to destroy the town, and a librarian attempts to promote reading by ‘making love’ to chickens. There was a moral to every episode, however it did take a very secondary role to the disgusting and depraved acts which led to it.

The essence to South Park was there from the start: this mix of disgusting or farcical events which eventually contribute to some overarching (and often insightful) social commentary.  All that has changed over the years is which aspect dominates in each episode. The best episodes have a fine balance of both, while the ones which are too much in one direction just do not work at all. South Park has been around for a long time now and has evolved significantly since it first appeared.  There isn’t so much swearing these days, but the gross-out humour still remains. In another new episode, a character sells his own semen as a sports drink. Back in 1997 this would have raised Daily Mail campaigns, however now for South Park and any other similar show, it doesn’t seem that bad. In its early, adoloescent years when it was still learning about itself and discovering what it wanted to be, South Park lowered the bar. Now, with the aforementioned soul searching between Stan and Kyle, and for the first time, its creators seem to acknowledge that they themselves may have contributed to the lower standards that popular culture now holds itself to. This is ironic, since South Park has made its business out of satirising these falling standards for a decade and a half.

The reason that short scene in that episode of South Park resonated so much with me was because I watched it the day after the Red Bull Stratos event, where Felix Baumgartner skydived from the edge of space and landed safely back on earth. This was a truly spectacular piece of television, an amazing feat of human drive and endeavour. It was also something that lowered the bar, and perhaps irreversibly so. This was heavily sponsored extreme sports dressed up as a noble voyage of scientific discovery. Not only that, but every detail of Red Bulls coverage was specifically designed to evoke (second-hand) memories of the Moon Landing. This is even an understatement, for with aging skydive record-holder Joseph Kittinger featured prominently throughout, this coverage was inspired by Hollywood movies versions of space missions, where the old hero is brought in to bring the main character back safely. The YouTube commentator spoke in stoic, serious tones, constantly highlighting the scientific value of the mission. Felix’s preparations were shown in full, and confirmed professionally by his aging, storied supporting actor. He then stood at the top of the world, mumbled something that Red Bull marketing may have come up with, then jumped. During this jump, the stoic commentator, speaking as if from the 1960s, mentioned that the capsule used to transport Felix would also drop down, carrying all the scientific data that had been requested by researchers interested in the mission. It was a scientific mission, after all: in the ascent. The jump however was really just a stunt, performed by a professional daredevil, commissioned by an energy drink.  This was reality television that was truly dangerous to society, and especially YOUR children: extreme sports masquerading as the eternal quest for knowledge.

There is a documentary (Six Days To Air) about Trey Parker and Matt Stones production process for South Park, where it is revealed that an episode goes from initial idea to finished product in six days, and broadcast on air that very night of completion. This explains how the show is able to keep impossibly relevant to current events. There are a few more episodes left in this season, so I hope tomorrow they start writing an episode based on Stratos, as it would be very interesting to see their interpretation. For the thing about South Park is that it has been around for almost 15 years, and has remained consistent throughout. In every season there are at least two episodes which contain truly cutting social commentary, so much so that it has got to the point where criticism from South Park cannot be laughed off by celebrities or politicians anymore. South Park is an elder statesman of the TV landscape. Maybe it has come to the point in its run where it sees the end, but at the same time looks back and wonders what effect it has had on popular culture, feels guilty and aims to salvage its legacy. South Park lowered the bar, but it is the number one social commentator on calling out others who do the same. They will never be able to raise the bar they lowered, but they can at least try to stop it from falling further.

Playing Video Games

Maybe it had something to do with the proliferation of Lana Del Rey ads hawking cheap Scandinavian casualwear around every U-Bahn station, but all last week I had Video Games on my mind.  At the end of September EA Sports released the newest version of their football simulation franchise, FIFA 13. Since the moment of its release, there had been a certain degree of inevitability as to when I would buy it. I generally stay away from buying video games, as they have a tendency to suck me in and take over my life, but I have bought the past two iterations, FIFA 11 and FIFA 12 so it is fair to say I am hooked into EA’s franchise cycle. After arguing with myself for a week about the decision to buy, and checking around various places in town to purchase it (seriously, if you buy games in this town, shop around: prices vary by as much as €20), I finally got around to it last Friday. I’m always annoyed with myself once I hand over the money to pay for the new FIFA, after all, what’s new? Surely a football game is a football game, and technology can’t have progressed so far in just a year to create a completely new gaming experience. Yet I hand over the money anyway, yearly, just like millions of others all over the world. Games in the FIFA franchise regularly outgross the biggest summer Hollywood blockbusters, even the good ones. EA Sports must be doing something right.

FIFA’s 11, 12 and 13 are very similar gaming experiences. They allow the user to take on the guise of a real football team, with the actual real-life players, each with their own unique attributes and appearance. The real-life aspect of FIFA is most important, as it’s the main reason it has eventually run out the winner in a battle between it and rivalling football video games franchises. The EA FIFA franchise owns the rights to everything: every team, every player, every league, every stadium that matters, FIFA owns the exclusive right to it. This leaves the other competing franchises looking cheap and lacking realism, as they often have to resort to giving real-life teams different names with different players. Realism is what FIFA aims at, to make it seem as if the game you are playing could be a real football game broadcast on television, complete with crowd reactions, instant replays and intelligent TV commentary describing the action. This is consistent with all of the FIFA titles, on an annual basis; they strive to make the game as close as possible to a real life broadcast. So every year the graphics are enhanced, the players play and react more realistically, and the commentators learn a few more clichés. Every four or five years there is a major change in gameplay, but apart from this the titles are almost interchangeable.

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There are different game modes of course; many choose to play against the computer, while most that have an internet connection play online against similarly ranked opponents from all over the world. I only play online, against strangers and also against friends who have the game (as well as the same games console). I have been buying football games for nearly twenty years, but only since online play came into my life have I bought one every single year. Online play implies a network, and a network always entails network effects.

A network effect occurs when the enjoyment you receive from a product does not depend solely on how you use this product yourself, but depends on how this product is used by the network as a whole. To understand network effects, you only have to think of how you joined Facebook for the first time: was it because you wanted to, or was it because all your friends were there, and the email notifications of tags and invites kept piling up, forcing you to accept this new social behemoth? Facebook itself doesn’t do much: your network does. Network effects are also the main reason we all have mobile phones, as everyone we know has one and now being reachable while on-the-move is a necessity. Network effects are also the reason why everyone reading this can understand me, despite the fact that a large percentage of you don’t have English as a native language. English isn’t the best language out there, it just has the largest and most influential network, always provoking and bullying non-members of this network into joining it.

The FIFA network effects are quite subtle. Depending on when you buy the new game, you have up to a year to enjoy the most up-to-date football video gaming experience on the market. You can meet online and play against (literally) millions of others, mastering the game in the process. Then the next FIFA appears, with incrementally advanced gameplay and a few more peripheral game modes. However, the main thing about FIFA as mentioned previously, was always the realism. You start to look at your old FIFA game, and compare it to a broadcast experience. In the space of just one year, teams at the top level of European football change dramatically in terms of personnel, and suddenly you start to see your game as being out-of-date. Players have moved from team to team, new younger players have emerged; new teams are in the big leagues. This is just an aesthetic aspect however; the gameplay should be the same, despite the discrepancies between the team you play as and that time in real life.

This is true, the gameplay is exactly the same. The thing that has changed is the ease of finding an opponent in the online mode. Whereas in the previous year, a match would be made within seconds, suddenly it becomes more difficult to find a player of a similar level to you. The matching process could take a minute, and you often will end up completely mismatched against someone vastly out of your league. This problem only increases with time. A lonely, sparse network is not a network at all, it is just a sad PlayStation user firing a shot in the dark, hoping someone sees it and joins in. The rest of the network has gradually moved on to the new FIFA, more realistic than ever, with enhanced gameplay and up-to-date squads. The decision therefore presents itself: stop playing, or buy the new one.

You still want to use this heroin, but suddenly it isn’t as good as it used to be. It was more fun with your (often anonymous) friends. In actual real life, you hear them talking about how good the new heroin is, and start to resent your old, mouldy, caking heroin. So the choice comes down to quitting heroin (which by now you are suffering from several withdrawal symptoms from) or purchasing the new heroin for another fix.  After a few iterations, you will realise that this happens yearly, once the new version is released. Therefore in order to get the most possible enjoyment from any FIFA game, you need to buy it as close to its release date as possible. I only buy one video game a year, so I don’t resent EA Sports too much for what I truly appreciate, from a marketing perspective, as one of the world’s greatest product cycles.


Retrospective edit, 07/02/2015

 I ended up keeping FIFA 13 for two years, as I only buy one game a year, and the year of FIFA 14 also released GTAV, so there was no question which one would win there. I often went back to FIFA 13, and was always shocked at how persistently the network deteriorated. Finding an opponent was extremely difficult, and the in-game economy of FIFA Ultimate Team had suffered from ridiculous inflation. I bought FIFA 15, and saw no real improvement in gameplay, merely in the network.

Choosing a Side: The Asian Restaurant Dilemma

My office at the WirtschaftsUniversitat Wien is located in a very isolated part of the campus, so much so that most of the time it isn’t worth the time trekking into the main campus and all its glorious amenities everyday to eat lunch (or in a particularly busy week, dinner as well). So if I am feeling lazy (which is most of the time), I have to settle for the places that are less than five minutes walk away. Now I said that my office is at the far end of the university campus, but it is by no means out in the middle of nowhere. It is directly behind a main train station and also the headquarters of one of Austria’s biggest banks. Surprisingly though, the availability of decent, quick, cheap food is in short supply. There is a McDonalds, which I must admit I go to about once a month when I do not feel like speaking too much German during a payment transaction. There is a franchise from a chain of bakers that sell all sorts of confectionary and baguettes, but nothing substantial. There are outside kiosks that sell kebabs and sausages, but nothing you could eat for lunch that you wouldn’t regret by 3pm. There are also two Asian restaurants, both within five minutes walk from me, operating less than 100m apart, that sell almost exactly the same products for exactly the same price. If I have to eat a meal in the area, I almost always choose these.

There are minor differences of course, but both sell the same basic mix of rice, noodle and sushi dishes for under €5, eat-in or takeaway. They are such close substitutes that if I go to one and see a long line, I automatically start walking for the other one to get exactly the same thing.  I like both of these places, and never (in advance) favour one over the other. The problem is, neither of these restaurants has always been there. Neither has been there for even three months. I have been working in that area for 18 months, and this is the first time in that period that there has been active business in both of those units at the same time. In this time period, one was a specialist Indian curry place that charged prices that flew too close to the sun: it lasted four months. The other unit was basically exactly the same as it is now, except it removed the ‘Mc’ prefix from the title in order to satisfy McDonalds. Both before and after these previous endeavours, each unit was empty for at least six months. There have been two periods, one for seven months, the other for two months, that there were no Asian restaurants in the area. It seems that they both operate in the cursed business units that exist in every neighbourhood, in every street, in every town all over the world. One year it could be a launderette, a few months later a solarium, the next year a cheap reusable printer cartridge refilling station.

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The chances that both my Asian restaurants survive are not very good. The chances that one of them survives are slightly better. I do like the choice of going to either of these places whenever I feel like it, but surely having one in the area is better than having none. All else being equal, the restaurant that gets the most business will have the greater chance of survival. Although my say in the fate of these two restaurants is minimal, I do have my thrice-weekly business to give, and it seems to me that if I give this business to one of them rather than distributing it equally between them, then I have done all I can to ensure the presence of quality Asian food in my locale. As already mentioned, they are quite similar. The customer service in both are standard, they are both the exact same distance from my office. One of them has a much nicer place to sit and eat, while the other one has a much better choice of sushi. My life would not be much different if one of them survived or the other. If both of them survive, it would be amazing, and if neither of them survived it would be awful.

This is usually the point where I attempt to academicise the problem and apply some (social) scientific knowledge.  Many will have seen straight through my framing of the problem and noted that there are two candidates running for office, and that an individual has one vote to cast. This vote is one of many, and more than likely will have only an incremental effect on the overall election result. However, this vote is added to the votes of many similarly rational individuals, and in theory these rational individuals will choose the best candidate to survive this electoral process. In my story, if only one restaurant can survive, the free market dictates that the business that makes the most profit will endure. Some individuals may favour Candidate A’s stance on the sushi issue, while others are heavily sentimental about Candidate B’s romantic allusions to the small-town colloquial diners of yesteryear. When all the votes are counted the consensus of the people will judge the outcome fairly, one way or the other.

There are other analogies to be made apart from this political aspect. Game theorists will easily spot the potential to model how I came to my decision about how to ensure the survival of one Asian restaurant, given that having none was the worst outcome, and that keeping both was highly unlikely. It is nothing but a best-response strategy to a simple problem. You could make the same model from analysing the choices of a woman who has two romantic partners, likes them equally, but wants a partner in the long run. This probably won’t be possible if she keeps both of them. The difference here however is that my two Asian restaurants are unlikely to get angry at each other (and at me), when they realise the infidelity. Choosing is difficult sometimes. It does make life more interesting sometimes though. I never enjoyed watching football as much until I finally manned up and decided to stick with one team until the bitter end. You live life on the edge when you get off the fence and choose a side, one minute you are up and the next minute you are crashing back down. Then the cycle repeats. Apparently it is better to have a fence to look up to when you are down than to be constantly balancing on its edges.

Unfortunately however, like most of the human race, I am not a rational individual and do not take into account the laws of logic and game theory in the mundane everyday decisions of my existence. I only take these laws seriously when it comes to my profession. I will more than likely continue hedging my vote between both of my Asian restaurants, as for some reason my vote would be for choice, and diversity. As mentioned a few times already, these two restaurants are almost exactly the same, so it is even worse: my vote would be for diversity, even in the face of homogeneity. If you can’t choose then maybe the choice should not be yours to make. I can’t choose between these two restaurants, and that will marginally chip away at their respective profits. Maybe both of those restaurants fold up and close, but some other restaurant, or solarium or printer refilling station will take their place, and who is to say that this is not what that community deserves? Not I, for I didn’t even vote in this election.