I don’t know how to frame this post. It’s just a couple of thoughts that I find interesting to think about. Some of them are a bit paradoxical. They may be useful as analogies when reasoning about unrelated situations.
NYC Taxi Drivers
Some NYC taxi drivers have as their strategy to earn a certain amount of money each day. Days when business is slow, they put in more hours, and when business is good, they can go home early. At first thought this sounds reasonable; They can sleep well at night, knowing that if they just stick to their strategy, they have a predictable income and know that the bills will be paid.
Unfortunately however, this stategy is in a sense the worst possible, as they are effectively optimizing for a minimal average hourly rate. To maximize their overall income, they should do the exact opposite: They should work more the days that business is good, and less those days business is slow.
Ashtrays in Airplane Restrooms
It’s strictly forbidden to smoke on airplanes, and has been so for a very long time. This is common knowledge. Crew occationally even point out that there are smoke detectors in the restrooms to deter people from smoking there. Yet there are ashtrays in the restrooms. Even in new airplanes. Why is that?
Should someone, against all reason, decide to smoke in the restroom, it’s still far better if they throw the butt in an ashtray than in the trash bin were people throw paper towels, where it could easily start a fire.
When I was a kid I had been saving my weekly allowances to buy a skateboard. When I had finally saved up enough I thought, what if I regret spending all my money on this? Then I thought, if I don’t buy the skateboard, I will certainly regret that. I ended up buying the skateboard and I had a lot of fun with it, so I didn’t regret my decision that time. It made me realize however, that sometimes you’re facing a life choice where future you may be bound to regret whatever choice you make.