Mar 30, 2009

Ever heard of the female shopping cycle?

So a recent study has linked shopping splurges to the menstrual cycle. It claims that...
...In the ten days before their periods begin women are more likely to make extravagant impulse buys, according to researchers. Psychologists believe that shopping sprees could be a way for premenstrual women to deal with the negative emotions created by their hormonal changes.

For the study 443 women were asked about their shopping patterns. The 153 women in the sample who were in the later stages of their menstrual cycle tended to have less control of their spending.

Professor Karen Pine of Hertfordshire University, who led the survey, told the Daily Mail: "Spending was less controlled, more impulsive and more excessive for women in the luteal phase [the days immediately before their period].

"The spending behaviour tends to be a reaction to intense emotions. They are feeling very stressed or depressed and are more likely to go shopping to cheer themselves up and using it to regulate emotions."

She added: "It is also a socially sanctioned way to deal with emotional overload compared to turning to drink or drugs.

"If women are worried about their spending behaviour then they should avoid going shopping at the end of their menstrual cycle."

Hmm. I always wondered why women at the shopping mall seem so perplexed!

I'm temporarily deactivating myself from facebook

I love facebook, but I'm addicted to it. I literally log on to it first thing in the morning and it's always the last thing I check before sleeping. Even while procrastinating during work or day dreaming or while watching tv, I subconsciously log on and start browsing the facebook profiles, notes and pictures of people, most of whom I don't really care about, nor will I ever meet...ever again in life. Its really sad.

I really need to focus in the next few months, so I'm going to do a little experiment here and deactivate myself temporarily from facebook. (Interesting to note that I think its not possible to delete ones account, which is kind of wierd and a little dangerous.)

Anyway, so let's see how long this experiment lasts and how productive I am. I certainly hope I'm a lot more productive. I'll still keep on blogging though, so the 3 people who follow my blog are still entertained. Woo hoo!

How has it been thus far? Well, too early to tell as today is my first day without facebook. It hasn't even been 24 hours since I deactivated my account, and I'm already having withdrawal effects. There seriously must be some medical term for Internet addition. If not, it needs to be considered. So I've been to the site 3 times before realizing that I can't log on. Of those 3 times, I plugged in my user name and password once before realizing it. This is madness!

Mar 24, 2009

Rutgers tuition amongst the highest for public universities - but is it worth it?

The undergraduate tuition at Rutgers University is notoriously high, but a recent report by California's Post secondary Education Commission caught my eye. This report compares fees at California's educational institutions, with those around the country and at the top of list, lies Rutgers, Newark (though a quick check at the Rutgers, New Brunswick website will tell you that the other campuses have around the same cost). This is a sad state of affairs for New Jersey, and its bound to get worse as Gov. Corzine is again reducing the amount of funding for Rutgers.

On the bright side, Rutgers has been prepared for this for a while now, and already has one of the lowest operating costs in the country. According to this news article...
Somehow, Rutgers has managed to survive thus far with its name and its glitter fully intact, even in the face of the sliding state figures. It's a wonder, when school leaders have had to cut hundreds of classes and positions. Or when tuition has soared by more than 10 percent in certain years. Or when one realizes that New Jersey now ranks in the bottom 10 states in tax funds spent for operating expenses of higher education per $1,000 of personal income, with a rate below $5.50; the U.S. median is $7.50.
Moreover, the education is still worth it. A recent study by debating the pros and cons of private colleges vs public colleges using a measure called 'payback' indicated that payback at most public universities is a lot higher than private colleges. This payback takes into account the higher cost of education at these private universities. The website just lists the top 5 public universities, but Rutgers admissions has the list of top 10, because its ranked 6 on that list. This is pretty cool and I've posted a picture of the list.

Mar 22, 2009

It's all about the numbers - landing an interview by pumping out your resume

A friend of mine recently commented about how she didn't land an interview for some internship that she applied to. It was disappointing, naturally, but what I couldn't figure out was why she applied to just a handful of internships. After all, from the human resources point of view, it really is all about the numbers, regardless of how well the economy is doing (Although obviously, in better economic times, you are more likely to get interviewed).

I think that one needs to apply to tens of hundreds of jobs in order to get your resume even looked at, and this is how I have chosen to explain this:

Let's assume that the probability of you landing an interview for one job application is p. Therefore the probability of you not landing an interview is 1-p. And if you apply to n jobs, then the probability of you not landing any interview is (1-p)^n. And the probability of you landing at least one interview is 1 - (1-p)^n. So if I would want my chances of getting an interview to be more than 50%, the equation I would need to solve is: 1 - (1-p)^n > 0.5.

Simple enough. So let's select some random probabilities of getting an interview for p.

If the probability of getting an interview is = 0.1, then you need to send out 7 resumes in order guarantee yourself at least 1 interview.

Obviously 0.1 is a really high probability, unless you are a genius, so let's work with some more realistic ones.

if p = 0.01, then n needs to be 69 job applications.
if p = 0.001, then n needs to be 693 job applications.

Well, you get the idea. In order to maximize the chance of you landing an interview, you really need to pump out that resume to as many places as possible. Obviously this model is extremely simple, with several non-realistic assumptions, but I feel that, generally speaking, this idea holds true.

Sadly, since its not at all possible these days, we have to wait for 693 jobs to open up. And after that, we still need to ace the interview. And I don't have an probabilistic scenarios or models for that. That's all on you!

Mar 10, 2009

Money saving tips from crazy people

In these harsh economic times, saving money is on everyone's mind. Google is now moderating a website called 'Tip Jar' where it gathers tips from users and various websites. Readers can rank these tips and the ones that are ranked highest, obviously pop up first. A lot of them are quite sensible, but some near the bottom of the page are just plain stupid. I'll share the ones I find most amusing.
"Breast feed your children for the health benefits (to mother and child) and take the cost savings of not buying formula and bottles as an added bonus. Even with the costs of a breast pump and storage supplies, you'll still come out way ahead."

Health: "Using a cotton ball, apply vodka to your face as an astringent to cleanse the skin and tighten pores"

Tech: "Use google maps to create a cultural/contextual map of your community"

Misc: "Take the extra time to spell things correctly - it shows you care about who's reading what you've written. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are often overlooked when communicating via the Internet."

Misc: "Do not eat yellow snow."

Mar 8, 2009

Lack of unselfish attractive women driving force behind being single

A female friend of mine and I were talking about dating in broad terms and she mused upon the fact that one often sees an 'attractive' girl on the arm of an 'average' looking guy. She says its really rare to see a really good looking guy with an average looking girl. Her reasoning was that women are a lot less picky about a guy's looks. Guy's on the other hand, she claimed, are extremely picky and care more about the girls looks. We may argue as to what the reasons for this are, but one can't argue against this observable trend. Her observations are quite on the spot.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these are subjective terms of description, but one can make a few assumptions, build a simple model and see what the conclusions are. And if I offend anyone along the way...too bad.

  1. Attractive women prefer attractive men and average men equally
  2. Assume a global scale of attractiveness, with attractive and average the only two categories
  3. Random mixing of both sexes
  4. Complete mixing towards a steady state
  5. Maximum likelihood estimates of probabilities at equilibrium
  6. Let attractive girls be the driving force behind dating
Method and Results:
  • Let x be the proportion of attractive girls and y be the proportion of attractive boys
  • Upon complete mixing, x/2 attractive girls will be with attractive boys and x/2 with average boys.
  • y-x/2 attractive boys remain without a partner
  • y-x/2 average girls remain without a partner
  • If y-x/2 = 0, (i.e. no attractive single boys remain or no single average looking girls remain) x = 2y
Conclusions and discussion:

According to this model, if one wants the entire population to have a partner, then there needs to be twice as many pretty girls as attractive men. It seems that this inherent lack of 'pickiness' in girls is keeping average looking girls from finding a partner. If attractive girls were as selfish as attractive boys, then there wouldn't be any single people left over.

So where do homosexual people fit in to this model? Well, they don't really but one can see where they might be involved. According to this model, the only groups of people not with someone of the opposite sex are average looking girls and good looking men. And you know what they say about gay guys and lesbians. Maybe this model is on one extreme end, but reality is somewhere closer to this model than to a model which includes only dating within your league.