Friday, November 20, 2009

Am I a stranger in my own life?

Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own life. From an outside perspective, based on my study of human behavior, my choices make sense. If I saw somebody else in my position, making my choices, I could explain them. When I am told accounts of my life, things I've done that I don't remember, I can accept them. I don't remember that, but it's in character.

But I am not outside my life. I am inside. These thoughts are my thoughts. From my own perspective, from a knowledge of the thoughts inside my head, rather than the events that have happened, my choices do not make sense. Did I choose them? Really? These are the choices I would have made? So I feel like a stranger in my own life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

eRepublik Letter from the Chairman - Week 1

Greetings to all investors in SRM Holdings.

Comrade Arms was officially opened for business on Day 619, after the completion of contract and receiving investment from enough investors to get the ball rolling. One original investor did not complete the contract and submit his investment of 5G, but 2 more shares were subscribed, giving a total of 19 shares outstanding. When possible, 5% of profits will be paid out per share, instead of 4%, to bring all investors to 1.15G return as quickly as possible.
Contributions from MasterGerund made it possible to start Comrade Arms, even though only 19G was invested, and dedicated purchasing of weapons got the ball rolling on the first day.

There are a consistent 10 employees, paid reasonable wages, with wellness above 90. MasterGerund is hired each day for 2USD and then paid one weapon after working. He is then fired, so the other 10 employees can work at maximum productivity, and rehired the next day. His first three days, the weapons were withheld, and then paid after Comrade Arms reached comfortable iron levels and had sufficient working capital in place for wages.
Comrade Arms strives to maintain cash at 50USD and iron levels at 200 units, which is enough for about two days operations. Cash above that is withdrawn to SRM Holdings and accumulated for dividend payouts.

Dividend Declaration:
Dividend payouts from week 1 will be 0.15 per share. It is hoped that week 2, which will be paid out on day 631, will be higher, as it will be a full 7 days, whereas week 1 was not a full 7 days.

Market conditions:
The price of weapons in the eUSA has fluctuated somewhat, but most inventory has been sold at a price of 7.60 (after tax price of 7.98.) Remaining inventory on day 624 was sold at 7.52, so that iron levels could be restored and profits withdrawn. This decline in the selling price of weapons is somewhat offset by the decline in the purchasing price of iron, which has decreased over the last four days from 0.89USD per unit (Q4 iron) to 0.81USD per unit (Q3 iron). This is a decline of about 0.40USD per weapon. Wage rates have also declined somewhat in the last four days, and Comrade Arms has been able to get a full staff of highly profitable workers.

Thank you everyone for your support.

SRM Holdings

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

eRepublik investment Contract

The following is the provisional investment contract. Please PM MasterGerund or SRM Holdings in game with modifications. Contract will be posted to forum once I have received approval and commitment to accept from all six investors.

Edit note: penalties section has been rewritten following recommendations by Romulus Tiberius Aquilinus.

If you're not from eRepublik and wondering what this is all about, you can check it out here. A list of regions that are good places to start.

Investment contract between SRM Holdings and Investors.

SRM Holdings represented by MasterGerund.

Shares will be issued in SRM Holdings for purchase of a Q1 Weapons company located in the eUSA.

Shares subscribed as follows:

danch51 5 shares
guggaburggi 1 shares
Kaminoshi 5 shares
Romulus Tiberius Aquilinus 5 shares
The Merchant 1 shares
K72Wind0maker 5 shares

Each share will be purchased for 1 Gold, which will be donated by the investor to SRM Holdings, upon acceptance of the contract, with the exception of Kaminoshi, who already donated his 5G to MasterGerund, and guggaburggi, who already transferred his 1G to MasterGerund. MasterGerund has transferred this 6G to SRM Holdings.

MasterGerund will work for Q1 Weapons company and will receive a daily salary of 2USD and 1 Q1 weapon. MasterGerund will not own shares.
Profits will be totaled every 7 days, beginning day 624. Each share will receive 4% of weekly profits, payable in gold. Profit payments will continue until each share has received 1.15 gold.

The end result represents a 15% profit above original investment. Once each shareholder has received 1.15 gold per share, the contract will be recognized as complete and no party will have any further obligation to any other party.

Each investor must agree sign this contract and contribute their investment to SRM Holdings within 24 hours of the contract’s posting.

No modification or tampering shall be made by any party involved in this investment. If any change is made by an investor, that investor will forfeit their investment and it shall become the property of SRM Holdings.
If the contract is agreed to, but the investment is not donated to SRM Holdings within 1 hour of the time contract is agreed to, this contract shall become null and void between the investor and business.
If the investment is donated to SRM Holdings but no signature is provided, the gold shall be returned and contract shall be deemed null and void between investor and SRM Holdings.
If an investor receives a temporary ban, their share of profits will be delayed until SRM Holdings or MasterGerund receives a PM from the investor announcing their return.
If an investor receives a permanent ban, or if they die, their shares have no further value.

SRM Holdings and MasterGerund shall at no time modify this contract after the contract is signed by MasterGerund. If contract is modified by SRM Holdings or MasterGerund, admin will seize accounts from MasterGerund and SRM Holdings and compensate for all gold lost by investors.

If SRM Holdings receives the gold from investors and does not use gold as intended by the interests of the investors and this contract, admin will access the accounts of SRM Holdings and MasterGerund, liquidate their inventory, and compensate investors to an amount equivalent to 1.15 gold per share owned.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Morality of Profits

According to Kant, when one wills something, one must also will that which is necessary to bring about what is willed. In considering the morality of a maxim, one must consider the fashion by which the maxim shall be carried out. This means that the morality of an end is determined partially by the morality of the means by which it is brought to pass. In considering the morality of profits, one must consider the individual moral worth of any means by which said profits are to be obtained. As such, certain profits may be considered moral, while others must be deemed immoral. I shall consider profit by industry, profit by investment, and profit by gambling, in order to determine their moral worth.

Industry can be considered in two forms; which are employment (working as an employee) and business (a business dealing in profits or services, which may or may not have employees other than the business owner.) It is an aspect of market theory that in economic exchange, assuming both parties have full information about the transaction at hand, each party trades what they believe to be of lesser value for something of greater value. When one works for wages, it is because he values the wage, or at least what it can purchase for him, more than the time he sacrifices for the wage. The employer assumes the employee has the ability to perform the tasks required of him, and will work hard to further the ends of the business. Based on these assumptions, the employer is willing to pay the wage required in order to purchase these services. This exchange takes place as each follows the maxim of seeking his own happiness.

That the employee put forth effort into the task at hand is a requirement for the morality of employment can be assumed, due to the employers desire that effort be made. If effort is not put forth, the employee can be considered synonymous with the one who makes a false promise. In obtaining the job, the employee effectively promises to work hard. If he does not, he is neglecting the promise given. In effect, if one earns a wage without putting forth the effort required, he is cheating his employer.

Can one imagine a world where all wage earners cheat their employers? Such a world could be conceived, but one could not find employment in such a world. This is because employers, acting on the assumption that they would be cheated, would perform tasks themselves instead of employing others to perform them. Furthermore, the apparatus of market efficiency would be limited by the inability to hire others to perform tasks, and the standard of living would be much lower. To cheat one’s employer is to will a much lower standard of living, and possibly a decreased level of personal happiness. Kant would perceive this as irrational, because seeking our own happiness is basic to rational behaviour. Thus, profit by withholding honest effort, or cheating one’s employer, is immoral, but profit by hard work is morally acceptable.

In a similar vein, we consider profit by industry in the case of business owners. The morality of operating a business depends on allowing and following fair market practices. Market theory implies that trade takes place to further the interests of both parties. While Kant sees seeking one’s one happiness to be morally neutral, seeking to increase the happiness of others is of greater moral worth. In this light, business in an industry which forwards the happiness of mankind can be considered of high moral value. On the other hand, a business in an industry which feeds on addictions and vice should be considered as morally reprehensible as the vices in which it trades. Examples of this include the trade of pornography, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and gambling (more on gambling forthcoming.) Honesty in business is assumed for business in an acceptable industry to be morally acceptable. In the examples of business in morally reprehensibly industries, complete honesty and fair trade is not enough to redeem the business from the immorality of the industry in which it trades.

Several things should be considering in determining the morality of profit by investment. First and foremost is the nature of the investment. Businesses in which the profits are obtained immorally extend that immorality of profits to the investors. An investor in a pornography business, for example, holds as much moral responsibility as the actual business owner or the operators of the business, regardless of whether or not the business needs the investment in order to function. This is because purchasing stock in a company is purchasing a piece of the company, and by extension makes one a partial owner of the business. The morality of that investment, then, should be considered on the same grounds as the morality of the business itself.

Before turning to other forms of investments, I would like to discuss the morality of gambling. Gambling takes many forms, but in every form, money is placed on the likelihood of an event taking place. If one correctly chooses, one makes a considerable profit. If one is wrong, one loses money. The implications of the categorical imperative on gambling are readily evident. One cannot will a world in which everyone can always correctly guess the outcome of events at stake, because this would make gambling, by its very nature, completely impossible.

Only in very limited circumstances can gambling be considered morally acceptable. For example, if one were to begin a lottery in which tickets cannot be purchased, but are paid for by advertisers. No money is risked by those who have a chance to gain from the lottery; instead a certain amount of time must be spent perusing the offers of advertisers. In such a circumstance, one need not will accuracy every time in order to profit; the odds of winning would eventually allow each participant to win, without any of them losing any money. It could be said, though, that this situation isn’t actually gambling, because it fails to fulfill the given definition of money being placed on the likelihood of an event taking place. In all other circumstances gambling is morally unacceptable.

Having considered the morality of gambling, we now turn to an additional form of investment: options on the stock market. In purchasing an option, one obtains the right to buy or sell stock of the company in question at a set price on a set date. For example, one purchases the right to sell 100 shares of General Motors at $54 per share at the end of April. If by the closing date of the option, the price of General Motors has dropped below $54 per share, one could quickly buy 100 shares at below $54 per share, and then exercise the option, selling them at $54 per share, and making an immediate profit. If prices haven’t dropped below $54 per share, the option expires worthless, because of course one wouldn’t buy for higher than $54 per share and then immediately sell for only $54 per share. In effect, a bet is being placed on the motion of the share price, but an actual investment in the company would not be made. Because this has all the attributes of gambling, and lacks the attributes of actual investment, trading in options can be considered as lacking moral worth.

In conclusion, we can determine that some forms of profit are acceptable, while others have no moral worth. Profit by employment has moral worth, assuming honest work, but lacks moral worth in the absence of actual effort put forth. Profit by business, and by extension, actual investment, has moral worth based on the morality of the business. The morality of the business is based on the industry in which it trades and the honesty with which it conducts business. Profit by gambling, and by forms of investment similar to gambling, lack moral worth, in that one cannot will a profit, because doing so is to will that others lose money.

Note: This was written five years ago as a paper for a freshman philosophy class, and I have not changed it in any way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blogs, Tweets, and Social Democracy

A little more than a month ago, my fiance took TRAX (Utah's local train transit) from her work to where she was going to meet me. She has a student pass, and didn't have her ID with her. She was stopped by a transit officer. He was rude, wrote her a ticket, made her miss her stop, and confiscated her pass. She was very upset about it, and we talked about it with my brother. He writes a blog about transit issues and parenting, and decided to do some research and write about her situation here. A few days later, he received a very polite email from the head of the transit police, who wanted to talk to her and discuss the situation. They got in touch, and she had a chance to tell him exactly what happened. He apologized for what happened, explaining that the officer would be reprimanded, and we were able to get the ticket rescinded and a new pass issued. A few weeks later, she saw the officer again on the train, and he approached her and personally apologized for being hostile.

With the election issues in Iran, Twitter has come to prominence as a way for Iranian Tweetizens to get the truth out about what's happening "on the ground" in Iran. I've even seen tweets warning to not retweet or post follow links of prominent Iranian Tweetizens, so that they can keep a lower profile. It's an interesting irony: They need their voice heard, but their identities unknown. How do you build a following without having any followers?
When Twitter planned some scheduled downtime last week (server upgrade? maintenance?), the canceled their original downtime and rescheduled it for 1:30 am in Iran. The middle of the afternoon in America. I think in EST, even though I live in Utah, because I do a lot with stocks and investments. I think the markets were closed, but barely. It was a beautiful case of human issues triumphing over blatant capitalism. Stocktwits and company had to wait, there was a crisis in Iran.

I haven't closely followed the situation in Iran; I've been thinking more about paying rent, finding a part-time job to sustain me while I get my trading and blogging figured out, and planning for an upcoming wedding. What I have noticed, though, is the new role that tweets are playing. Tweets are the new blogs, and blogs are the new. . . what? Superheros? Guardians of civic virtue?
Maybe it's from listening to the evocative rhymes of Ani DiFranco and Bob Dylan a lot lately, but my thoughts have returned again and again to this new medium. We never intended my brother's blog about the run-in with the transit police to be our medium for obtaining social justice. We were going to pursue the normal avenues: Call to get the address, present student ID to get ticket rescinded, submit formal complaint of mistreatment and request disciplinary action. All of that was made unnecessary by the favorable outcome obtained by my brothers blog.

Should we have to blog to obtain social justice? Should the Tweetizens of Iran have to tweet to bring freedom to their country, or to exercise freedom of speech? Of course not. The world is never quite as ideal we would like it to be, but it's the world we live in. It being the world it is, I'm just grateful we have blogs, and tweets, and whatever else it takes to make the world a slightly better place.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I have started using twitter more than I previously was. Still, I hate loading twitter and seeing a stream of twits from one poor twat. So I mostly only follow people that update maybe a couple times a day at most. If somebody posts more frequently, and I want to see it, I subscribe to it using Google Reader.
I registered with and got a couple new followers within a few minutes; that was pretty impressive.
And I added a twitter widget to my blog, it's currently on the left.

What do people think about my current layout? Too busy, needs features, has annoying features, bad colors, good colors... Here's your chance to make a difference on something completely unimportant. ;)

Monday, June 8, 2009

An auspicious beginning

This blog is begun, to write about things I think are interesting, and occasionally to solicit a guest post from other bloggers.

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