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Benny
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Economics of love/marriage/sex  
« on: Jun 19th, 2009, 2:29am »
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It's time to start a new thread for Economics.
 
I have no intention of becoming an economist. I enjoy reading articles about economics, especially Behavorial Economics ... I'm a big fan of Game theory.
 
Here are the sources of my information/reading:
 
- Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational
- Freakonomics
- Tim Harford's Logic of Life
 
These books are hilarious, thought-provoking, and they offer an entertaining and provocative look at the logic behind the seemingly irrational.  
 
Tim Harford, author of "The Logic of Life" and "The Undercover Economist", explains the economics of :
 
The Logic of Life -- WORK
 
The Logic of Life: Racial segregation
 
Thomas Schelling's chessboard model. Explained by Tim Harford  
 
Why your boss is overpaid
 
He explains the brutal economics of tournament theory - and why it leads to office politics  
and overpaid bosses.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #1 on: Jun 19th, 2009, 2:31am »
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How economics can get you a date
 
 
Tim Harford on The Logic of Life
 
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #2 on: Jun 19th, 2009, 2:32am »
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Trust Me, I'm an Economist 1
 
Trust Me, I'm an Economist 2
 
Trust Me, I'm an Economist 3
 
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #3 on: Jun 19th, 2009, 2:33am »
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3 things We Know about Economics (Tim Harford 1/6)
 
The Secret Cappuccino (Tim Harford 2/6)
 
Economics and the Big Problems (Tim Harford 3/6)
 
What Economists Don't Know (Tim Harford 4/6)
 
Connecting Economics to the Real World (Tim Harford 5/6)
 
Beyond the Equations (Tim Harford 6/6)  
 
 
I hope that these videos will generate lots of discussions.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #4 on: Jun 19th, 2009, 2:30pm »
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I' ll start with the logic (if any) of dating and speed dating.
 
In Chapter 3, Tim Harford discusses speed dating. He claims that ‘we, economists, cannot get enough of economists to show their faces at speed dating events. Economists at Columbia University even went to the trouble of organizing one. Ever since John von Neumann s game theory promised to help us understand love and marriage, economists have been interested in how people choose their partners and how relationships work.  
 
Tim Harford claims that if you want to understand the way people choose their partners, a speed date is a great place to start.  
 
At a speed date you can get information about each person responded to dozens of potential partners, something that would be impossible to collect in more traditional dating situations without binoculars, snooping devices, and a good private investigator.
 
You could have 20 men and 20 women gathered together for an evening. Everyone has a name badge, a pen, a list of check boxes, drinks. The women sitting at small tables dotted around the room. A host: a rep from the speed dating company that organizes the event. Then, the host will ring a littlt bell to prompt all the men to hurry to their assigned ‘dates’ Which would last 3 minutes. And when the time is up, the bell will ring, the daters will shake hands, and the men will hop to the next table and the next woman.
 
When everybody has met everybody else and ticked ‘date’ or ‘no date’ for each name on his list or her list. That info will not be revealed until the next day, or over the Internet, and the men and women could continue chatting in blissful ignorance.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #5 on: Jun 19th, 2009, 2:58pm »
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on Jun 19th, 2009, 2:30pm, BenVitale wrote:
I' ll start with the logic (if any) of dating and speed dating.
 
[Description of speed dating]
 
Where's the logic? You only gave a description of what it is.
Or do you want arguments for and against why it may not be a good model for mate selection?
 
- Results change dramatically if the men sit and the women move around
- Most people end up in relationships with people they know from their social networks (work, school, world of warcraft), not people they met at a single event and perhaps a few dates.
- participants are not a random sample of the (singles') population
- Do they even attempt to do controlled experiments, using control groups, and changing variables while keeping the rest constant?
- Do they make hypotheses first, then test them; or collect data first and fit a theory around it?
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #6 on: Jun 20th, 2009, 12:15am »
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I'll be able to continue the discussion tomorrow. The author does not address your questions in Chapter 3 ... I'll continue reading the chapter tomorrow.
 
The author asks, [i]"Do people spend their lives looking for "the one", the one person -- or less ambitiously, a particular type of person -- who is the perfect match for them temperamentally, socially, professionall, financially, and sexually? Or do people adjust their standards depending on what they can get? In other words, are the romantics right, or the cynics?
 
The author like to continue to believe that there is one special person out there, someone who is the perfect match for them?
 
Economists have realized that speed dates provide the sort of data about who likes whom ... and they persuaded speed dating companies to share their data.
 
The outcome of this research seems to suggest that if one asks, "Can he or she be the one?” ... The answer, I’m afraid, is “just about anyone, yes.”
 
................
 
There's more to love, dating, and marriage than rational choice theory, but rational
choices are an important part of the story.
 
A biologist or a poet can explain why we fall in love.
 
A historian or an anthropologist can trace the way the institution of marriage has started, can explain why and how it started, and how it has changed over the centuries.
 
But an economist can tell you something about the hidden logic that underlies love.
 
Tim Harford looks at competition, supply, and demand in the marriage market ... competition does apply to love.
 
He shows how rational people respond in places where there are imbalances between the numbers of men and women available.
 
 
I shall continue tomorrow ... and thanks for your interest.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #7 on: Jun 20th, 2009, 5:18am »
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on Jun 20th, 2009, 12:15am, BenVitale wrote:
The author asks, "Do people spend their lives looking for "the one", the one person -- or less ambitiously, a particular type of person -- who is the perfect match for them temperamentally, socially, professionall, financially, and sexually? Or do people adjust their standards depending on what they can get?
What about a third option? Like one where people find 'love' without looking; which is pretty common.
Do people go around comparing potential mates to some sort of standard in the first place, or is this akin to asking what type of cheese the moon is made of? Sure, a rare few people do make up a list of what they would want in a partner, and then most of them end up with someone completely different anyway, because "it's just love".  
There's nothing rational about it, just biology doing it's "magic". I really doubt most people have any standards; you just need to turn on the TV to see that.
 
Quote:
Economists have realized that speed dates provide the sort of data about who likes whom
You can't tell whether you like someone from talking 5 minutes. It's a very coarse selection process at best, based on nothing much that determines long term success in a relationship.  
 
Quote:
There's more to love, dating, and marriage than rational choice theory, but rational
choices are an important part of the story.
I don't believe they are; for one thing nearly no one says to himself "Well, I'll just settle for her, because I can't do any better". They're all convinced they found the one, because that's what biology inclines them to think.
 
Quote:
But an economist can tell you something about the hidden logic that underlies love.
Not as well as a psychologist or biologist.
All the "hidden logic" has to be contingent on whether it is a behavioural "rule" that can evolve. Evolution doesn't promise to give you optimal rules as economic theory would. Even if there is some coarse-grained correspondence, it's simply the wrong language to use. You could also "economize" physics; for example framing entropy as cost, or anentropy as benefit, and then you can claim a stone chooses to fall down because it's most cost effective; but it's nonsense.  
Much biological behaviour may appear rational from the gene's point of view, but it's not like genes actually choose. It's all causal. And the causal model fits much better to explain all the irrational behaviour display.
 
Quote:
Tim Harford looks at competition, supply, and demand in the marriage market
Oh, if only. The speed dating market is not model for the marriage market, it's a very small unrepresentative submarket.
Does he give any numbers on how many people from those speed dating sessions end up getting married? And whether [i]that is the same in the more vs less desirable groups? It would surprise if he did.
 
Quote:
competition does apply to love.
Rarely, I'd wager. Honestly, how often does either of two people dating have multiple suiters at the same time? Some empirical, quantitative evidence would be nice.
 
All I see are vapid claims that sell books.
But then that's books for you, a scientist would write a paper for a peer-reviewed journal; but then he'd actually have to do proper research and analysis, and he wouldn't make as much money.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #8 on: Jun 21st, 2009, 12:03pm »
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Towr,
 
You have raised important questions. Please bear with me, I'm reading his book slowly and carefully... and doing research to find additional info. Why? Because the book raises more questions than answers ... it is insightful and entertaining book that would be of interest to anyone with a slight interest in economics and game theory.
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #9 on: Jun 21st, 2009, 12:08pm »
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Please read the book review by New York Times
 
 
And I could add that the thesis of his book is that human beings are rational in everything we do, however illogical it might seem ... it is founded in cold hard reason, if only you look hard enough ...
from hookers to teenagers to criminals, everyone is endowed with a rational mind.
 
Tim Harford  himself admits to is that rationality is accentuated by experience.  This is similar to conditional learning : the more times you have done something, the more likely you are to know the likely effects of a wide range of your actions and you will pick the one most likely to lead to positive gains for you -- either now or in the future. Whether you call it good old common sense or logic, the end result remains the same, and can be explained rationally.
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #10 on: Jun 21st, 2009, 12:19pm »
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He opened chapter 3 with a quote from Carrie Bradshaw, the character from Sex and the City
which illustrates the difficulties facing single women when they outnumber single men in NYC
 
Carrie Bradshaw's quote 'Is divorce underrated?'
There are 1.3 million single men in New York City, 1.8 million single women, and of these  
more than 3 million people, about 12 think they're having enough sex.
-- Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Sex and the City --

 
Women outnumber men in NYC which suggests that the women lose their bargaining power.
 
Women outnumber men in the cities of almost every developed country.
 
The author states that even a small discrepancy between the sexes can have surprisingly far-reaching effects.'
 
How?  
 
The author mentions the swedish economist Lena Edlund who did a study and wrote 2 important papers:
 
 - Why Women Live in Cities
 
each single man one counts three single women in Paris, and five single women in Manhattan.
 
- A Theory of Prostitution
 
P.S. The author doesn't explain clearly how a discrepancy in the male-to-women ratio affect the bargaining power of women and how strategies are devised and adjusted.
 
I need to do some research to figure this out.
 
I have a question for you:
 
Are you familiar with Signalling (economics) and Signaling games ?
 
And Cheap talk, which, in game theory, is communication between players which does not directly affect the payoffs of the game ... I'll need to figure how utlize it in order to affect the outcome of a game. The theory cannot guarantee an effect on equilibrium payoffs.
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #11 on: Jun 21st, 2009, 12:40pm »
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Quote:
Towr wrote:
The speed dating market is not model for the marriage market, it's a very small unrepresentative submarket.  
Does he give any numbers on how many people from those speed dating sessions end up getting married? And whether [i]that is the same in the more vs less desirable groups? It would surprise if he did.  
 

 
You're right to express reservations about 'Speed dating'
 
Researchers were able to find that courtships that take longer before mating will be more successful for the female. This is because good males are more willing to be patient during a longer courtship period, but bad males quit if they do not get their way.
 
According to research, good men are more likely to participate in a long courtship.
 
An extended courtship allows the male to signal the female that he is a suitable mate and gives the female time to screen out males who are not suitable
 
The strategic problem the female faces is how to screen out bad males, and this is where long courtship comes into play
 
"Flirting" is an important 'Signaling' tool in communicating with the opposite sex. And how does it change in 'Speed dating' is not clear to me.
 
Flirting is a way we signal our amorous interest and intent in each other.
 
Well, in normal dating, flirting is nature's solution to the problem every creature faces in a world full of potential mates-how to choose the right one.
 
Flirting is a negotiation process that takes place after there has been some initial attraction ...
 
In a normal date you'll reveal this and have this revealed to you in smaller doses, and incrementally ... little bit at a time.
 
You don't have that in 'Speed dating'
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #12 on: Jun 21st, 2009, 2:52pm »
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Quote:

The author asks, "Do people spend their lives looking for "the one", the one person -- or less ambitiously, a particular type of person -- who is the perfect match for them temperamentally, socially, professionall, financially, and sexually? Or do people adjust their standards depending on what they can get?

 
I need to add the following:
 
Tim Harford admits that he cannot answer that question definitely -- not even the most ingenious of today's new generation of economists has devised an experiment that will prove whether people lower their sights in response to market conditions when it comes to marriage. But there's some suggestive evidence from the study of speed dating, courtesy of the economists Michele Belot and Marco Francesconi.
 
Michele Belot and Marco Francesconi wrote a paper on 'Speed dating':
 
Can Anyone Be "The" One? Evidence on Mate Selection from Speed Dating
 
Quote:
Towr wrote:
 
What about a third option? Like one where people find 'love' without looking; which is pretty common.  
Do people go around comparing potential mates to some sort of standard in the first place, or is this akin to asking what type of cheese the moon is made of? Sure, a rare few people do make up a list of what they would want in a partner, and then most of them end up with someone completely different anyway, because "it's just love".  
There's nothing rational about it, just biology doing it's "magic". I really doubt most people have any standards; you just need to turn on the TV to see that.  

 
The 2 economists, Michele Belot and Marco Francesconi, found that there is no short cut to true love ...  
 
They calculated that for every inch taller a man is than his speed-dating rivals, the number of women who want to meet him goes up by about five per cent.
 
Reducing the magical chemistry of love at first sight to a set of complicated equations, researchers Michele Belot and Marco Francesconi analysed the choices made by 1800 men and 1800 women at 84 speed-dating events across Britain.
 
The conclusion of the study was blunt and to the point: "Women prefer men who are young and tall, while men are more attracted to women who are young and thin ... What we try to show is that there is a pattern in how people choose each other," Ms Belot said.
 
But she readily conceded that science does not have the answer to all affairs of the heart.
 
"It is true we can explain quite a lot, but there is still a part that is unexplained. That is where love will play a role," she said.
 
But, in the unforgiving numbers game of love, age is crucial.
 
Each extra year, in comparison with others in the speed-dating group, reduces a man's chance of finding a partner by 4% and for women it is 5%.
 
Should a man of average height turn up at the speed-dating event?
 
Why not? All is not lost ... it's still, quite often, all about the luck of the draw ... the other male rivals could be of average height, or even shorter.
 
The book doesn't go into details in the "Speed dating Online" phenomena.
 
I found a site: Free Webcam Speed Dating Online  
 
I did not find any research on this ... I'll look for it, though.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #13 on: Jun 23rd, 2009, 12:15pm »
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on Jun 21st, 2009, 12:08pm, BenVitale wrote:
And I could add that the thesis of his book is that human beings are rational in everything we do, however illogical it might seem ... it is founded in cold hard reason, if only you look hard enough ...
Yeah, if you look really, really hard and ignore all the more sensible explanations.
Which can be said for most pseudoscience. It always explains everything if you look hard enough. It also explains the opposite when it becomes apparent the initial evidence is mistake.
 
Quote:
from hookers to teenagers to criminals, everyone is endowed with a rational mind.
Only slightly more so than amoebas. Which also behave very rationally, from a certain point of view.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #14 on: Jun 23rd, 2009, 12:36pm »
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on Jun 21st, 2009, 12:19pm, BenVitale wrote:
Women outnumber men in NYC which suggests that the women lose their bargaining power.
That would require a) that bargaining takes place in a meaningful sense, b) that they are aware of the difference in available partner, c) that they all have an equal market value, d) that all singles want a partner; and probably a host of other factors.
At the very least it should be empirically verifiable if women in NYC are easier to seduce than an equivalent women*) in a smaller city with more favorable male/female ratios
 
*) Same approximate looks, same socio-economic status, same type of circle of friends, same type of education, same desire for a partner and same approximate desperation, etc.
Yes, that's a lot of variables to control. However I'd hazard to guess there is a difference in demographic make-up of the female population in a big city and the female population in a smaller cities, towns and villages.
 
Quote:
I have a question for you:
 
Are you familiar with Signalling (economics) and Signaling games ?
Only slightly; in the context of evolutions and sexual selection. For example the way that a peacock's tail signals his fitness by being a huge burden.
For the less fit it is important to find ways to lie, for the fit it is important to find ways to prove that your signal is trustworthy. (So risking your survival is a good signal)
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #15 on: Jun 24th, 2009, 10:09am »
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I'd query whether approximate desperation should be included in the list of controlled variables - the theory is that the excess of women means that, all else being equal, they will tend to be more desperate, so easier to seduce...
 
You could also test to see whether equally seducible women are equally seducible, but I doubt the results would be particularly enlightening...
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #16 on: Jun 24th, 2009, 11:42am »
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I have started to read this document:
 
The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox
How economics and game theory explain the shortage of available, appealing men.
 
http://www.slate.com/id/2188684/
 
And there is an interesting and tough discussion at
 
http://www2.wiwi.hu-berlin.de/wt1/staff/ivanova-stenzel/asym-finaleercor rected3.pdf
 
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #17 on: Jun 25th, 2009, 8:24am »
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on Jun 24th, 2009, 10:09am, rmsgrey wrote:
I'd query whether approximate desperation should be included in the list of controlled variables - the theory is that the excess of women means that, all else being equal, they will tend to be more desperate, so easier to seduce...
The hypothesis is that they adapt to market conditions. The same amount of "desperation" may exist in different market conditions. In fact, you could just move a given woman around to different "markets" and see how that influences her suducebility.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #18 on: Jun 25th, 2009, 8:27am »
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From xkcd
 
Game Theory
 

 
Alt text: Wait, no, that one also loses. How about a nice game of chess?
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #19 on: Jun 25th, 2009, 10:22am »
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Wow... Shocked I give you lot credit... this is one of the funniest threads I've read in awhile.  
 
I'm not sold at all on the idea of economics being able to really accurately predict the nature of dating. Sure there are some examples that will fit the bill supporting such an idea like people who choose to marry or date "sugar mommas/daddies", in which case the entire process is about money; but there are also some purely irrational cases where one partner is in all logical ways totally wrong but still someone is attracted to them even if they're unsupportive, unable to hold a job, murderer, sociopath, etc  
 
Also, of course there will be a difference in behavior between the women in a small town/city and those in a big city. The fact that they are attracted to living in the areas they do is indicative of personality differences. Small towns/cities tend to be more "everyone knows everyone" (believe me... I grew up in one... everyone is in everyone else's business) while bigger cities, with the exception of one's close group of friends, has a more "everyone is a number" type feel where you can get lost in the sheer scale. I'm not saying this is always the case by any means, but in general I think the trends would vary in the direction that in a big city "seducebility" would be higher where reputation is less of an issue and lower in small towns where there are lots of watchful eyes to keep everyone else on the path of the straight and narrow.
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #20 on: Jun 25th, 2009, 3:46pm »
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on Jun 25th, 2009, 8:27am, towr wrote:

 
Alt text: Wait, no, that one also loses. How about a nice game of chess?[/center]

 
That's a quote from the movie War Games?
Have you seen it?
 
That's a cute comic!
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #21 on: Jun 25th, 2009, 3:55pm »
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ima1trkpny,
 
Hi there! thanks for your input ... I'm trying to build a model as a game.
 
Please read:  Why women outnumber men in Manhattan
 
and Love’s bottom line
 
 
In places where men are scarce, women respond by staying in school longer. In cities where men are particularly rich, women are particularly plentiful.
 
[Did Carrie Bradshaw (from Sex and the City show) ever stop to think that there's a reason so many women live in Manhattan?]
 
Love is not rational, but lovers are.
 
The rationality of lovers has surprisingly far-reaching effects when one sex outnumbers the other, even by a small margin. To see why, we need to visit a place that exists only in the curious imagination of economists: the Marriage Supermarket
 
 
My next post will be about the Marriage Supermarket
 
 
 
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #22 on: Jun 25th, 2009, 5:27pm »
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on Jun 25th, 2009, 3:46pm, BenVitale wrote:

 
That's a quote from the movie War Games?
 

 
haha yup that's the movie... "I would like to play global, thermo-nuclear war..." not too much different from dating in my book Tongue
 
And seriously... I've never watched any Sex and the City so congratulations on being more feminine than I am  Roll Eyes
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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #23 on: Jun 26th, 2009, 10:20am »
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on Jun 25th, 2009, 5:27pm, ima1trkpny wrote:

 
And seriously... I've never watched any Sex and the City so congratulations on being more feminine than I am  Roll Eyes

 
Well, thanks ... if you live in NY, then you'll probably be tempted to watch that show ... I used to watch and talked about that show to impress the women ...  
« Last Edit: Jun 26th, 2009, 10:20am by Benny » IP Logged

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Re: Economics: Erratic wisdom  
« Reply #24 on: Jun 26th, 2009, 2:19pm »
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on Jun 26th, 2009, 10:20am, BenVitale wrote:
I used to watch and talked about that show to impress the women ...
In retrospect, do you consider that to have been a good investment of your time, or would making a different allocation of that scarce resource have been a more rational choice?
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