Traffic for 2008 March 23 (entry 0)

< Sitting Pretty
Anti-Dentite >

[Comments] (15) VCP?: Our DVD player died. It was a wedding gift and I'm sure we registered for cheapest old thing. Susie wanted to get it repaired but I looked up new machines and decided that it's probably cheaper just to buy a new one. So for $60 we got a VCP/DVD. Our VCR is mine from high school and also only works when repeatedly banged on. This new combo machine is pretty cool. You can play a video and a DVD at the same time and toggle back and forth while both play simultaneously. Don't know when I would ever do this, but it's a nice touch. Also, I should point out that this new machine does not allow video recording, only playing. Thus it's a VCP, not a VCR. Just so's you know.

My NCAA bracket is failing miserably. I'm sure glad I didn't enter my work tax group bracket. It cost $5 to enter. I opted out, as I figured it constituted gambling. However, the boss, a stake president, entered. As did most of my mormon coworkers. I'm confused. When would it be considered gambling. $6? $10? Why is this not gambling? This is why I don't necessarily want to still live here when Maggie enters teenage-dom. It's so much easier to explain to kids why our family values are different from their friends when all of their friends are from different faiths. But when they are from the same faith: how to explain it then? I think it'll be easier to raise kids with the values I adhere to elsewhere.


Posted by Leonard at Sun Mar 23 2008 19:13

To draw the line it helps to figure out what you think is bad about gambling. If (eg.) you think it's wrong to get money without providing any value then you won't gamble any amount. If you think it's wrong to gamble compulsively, then spending $5 on a once-a-year thing isn't much different from spending $5 on a movie or other fun thing; there's no repetitive element that might lead to compulsion. If you think it's wrong to risk money you need, then gambling starts being wrong when you start risking more than you can afford to lose.

Posted by Sumana at Sun Mar 23 2008 19:16

It's totally gambling even if it's a dollar. But what differentiates gambling and investment? You might know, in which case I'm curious.

In any case you're going to be telling Maggie, "this is what we believe and do," and the identity you'll be identifying as the source of those values will be a mix of American/Christian/LDS/Chadwick/Whitney/Richardson/Western/21st century/human/stuff I've missed. I have no doubt that she'll see that people inside and outside your church share and don't share your values. You'll be guiding her to see people's choices clearly, and not just perceive the labels.

But yeah, as my parents experienced, the immigrant parent gets to define their child's experience of the parent's culture, because the kid won't compare the parents' interpretation of it with neighbors' and friends' interpretations of it.

By the way, we should talk soon and make more Bear Stearns jokes.

Posted by Susie at Mon Mar 24 2008 09:24

The remote for our new DVD player has a RED power button. Just in case it wasn't easy enough for Maggie to turn it off.

Posted by Joe Walch at Mon Mar 24 2008 12:46

Sumana stole my thunder. John, I was going to tell you to just think of it as investment in the futures market.

Personally, I am simply uninterested in college sports (especially now when I have no time to check the internet) and would probably choose Gonzaga to go all the way (i.e. for me, it wouldn't be gambling any more than putting a lit-match to a $5 bill would be gambling, perhaps you could just excuse yourself by saying that putting a $5 bill through the paper shreader is a faster way to dispose of $5 and requires less effort).

Also, on explaining to your kids about values etc. you could just move to San Antonio where there is a whole lot of business investments and development, have a little bit of that 'family centered' culture from the catholic/latino influence, and still be able to define your own cultural tradition for your family ;)

Plus, Maggie would be very much sought after by the boys in High School. From my experience, all the boys in San Antonio were always so frustrated that the 'most desirable' girls in town were LDS, and weren't interested in dating them (the boys). Now that is powerful, when it comes to teenager sociological dynamics.

think about it-- Kristen's selling her house in about a year and a half. ;)

Posted by Susie at Tue Mar 25 2008 07:55

We already did think about it. =)

Posted by John at Tue Mar 25 2008 09:15

To Leonard: I think your argument has merit. Where it fails me, however, is that this could be said of any so-called sin. Take drinking alcohol, for example. If it's not compulsary, couldn't drinking once a year during the NCAA finals game be considered simply spending $5 on entertainment? I think my coworkers would disagree. So, then, the thing that angers me is that I feel they are explicitly cherry-picking when to argue "once doesn't hurt" or "moderation in all things."

To Sumana/Joe: Gambling vs. investing, I suppose, must be construed based on intent. I know someone who bought a home, and after 10 years pulled all the equity out of it to buy another home. Then they rented out their old home. So in essence they own absolutely nothing. They didn't really earn the paper appreciation on the first house but used it to get a new house. They clearly wanted something for nothing and got burned when the renters left, the housing market burst, and they couldn't rent the house for enough to make the payment on both houses anymore. That was gambling.

But I bought a home to live in. If history holds true, and I own an appreciating asset one day, then so be it. Bully. But I bought it to live in, not to make money on. I also bought it because renting equates to throwing money away. As for my 401K, how can we say I am gambling with that money? I didn't get something for nothing. I earned that money and am simply placing it in a mix of investments that have proven, over time, to at least match if not exceed inflation. Sure, I could hoarde the money under my mattress, but in 40 years from now it would have depreciated significantly. I invest to ensure it retains good value, is tax deferred, and receives an employer match. I really don't think that's gambling.

To Joe: I don't think San Antonio would have us. Though I've never been to TX (I'm going to Dallas in May) I have a feeling my way of thinking would perhaps be alienating.

Posted by Joe Walch at Tue Mar 25 2008 10:46

Dallas is so boring!!!

You probably wouldn't know unless you actually experienced it yourself, but the North San Antonio--Austin corridor is actually an interesting blend of cultues including Latin, German, Jewish, Italian, etc. Catholic values mix well with LDS values (as far as I can tell). In a place where you might be invited to dinner by a person you met in the movie theatre (happened to Alyson and Dave), I think you would have to be pretty extreme to be alienated here (e.g. Ozzy Osbourne was banned from ever playing in San Antonio).

Posted by Sumana at Tue Mar 25 2008 13:33

Maybe whether or not I'd call something gambling does come down to the absence or presence of rapacious greed, or hubris, or whether the financial enterprise also provides value to others, or skill vs. chance... Or maybe the sheer riskiness of the bet. Or whether an individual person or entity is in charge of choosing winners and losers.

Hmm. I'm just not sure there's a bright line between investment and gambling, because of that realm of financial speculation. In every case you are taking a risk in the hopes of increasing your wealth. And yet every move we make is a calculated risk, and indeed we need to take risks to beat inflation and ensure our continued financial sustainability.

I heard a talk on Saturday from a fellow who is starting a business, in full knowledge that most new ventures fail, in the hopes of building a software product and selling the firm to a larger firm within 5 years. That's not the most sober investment but it's not pure gambling either.

You suggest that a 401(k) fund doesn't get "something for nothing." Yet once you put a dollar in that fund, it grows without any additional effort from you -- unless it shrinks. It's a game of probabilities, albeit one of the most sober investments due to its low long-term risk.

An interesting topic!

We could have a valuable chat sometime on renting vs. owning, especially considering opportunity and transaction costs!

Posted by Leonard at Wed Mar 26 2008 07:19

If you think what's wrong about drinking is the effects of drinking regularly or to excess, then no, drinking alcohol once a year isn't wrong. If you think it's wrong to change your body chemistry or you know you're prone to addiction or you think it's a sin to drink alcohol, then any amount is wrong.

In my opinion a sin-based analysis isn't that useful because we deal differently with people who commit different sins. When we do this we're performing some meta-analysis. I like a meta-analysis that focuses on what's wrong with a particular behavior. It sounds like your co-workers' meta-analysis mostly has to do with local social stigma, which I think is a flimsy way to do morals.

Posted by John at Wed Mar 26 2008 08:48

Leonard: I would agree with your latest comment.

Joe: I shouldn't be so hard on Texas. It's true I have stereotyped the South, probably unfairly. Texas must be a great place. Where else in the Union can you buy a house in college? There's that, and the fact that the stars at night, shine big and bright....

Sumana: I suppose it's true that investing involves gambling. But then, what doesn't? Isn't going to college then a gamble (I'll make more money in the long run if I don't make any for four years and instead pay money for four years)? Commuting could be seen as gambling my life on the freeway. Eating out could be seen as gambling my health.

Though I think it would be fun to discuss renting vs owning with you sometime.

Posted by Sumana at Wed Mar 26 2008 09:28

I'm probably visiting San Antonio sometime this year for the Real Live Preacher retreat, so I'll report back re: Texas, its yellow roses, messing with it, etc.

You're right that is isn't useful to just say "everything is gambling!" and give up on making meaningful distinctions. I once read that a model that explains EVERYTHING also explains nothing -- this is just another way to point out the importance of falsifiability. But anyway!

I talked with Leonard about the gambling thing and he pointed out a meaningful difference: investments, in contrast to gambles, have something to do with the production of tangible value to people, especially people other than the buyer and seller.

Posted by John at Wed Mar 26 2008 12:16

Sumana: Ooh, good point. In gambling, the house always wins. In investing, if nobody else wins, the house will lose all its clients. I wonder why that model doesn't work in Vegas? I always see the signs on the 15 for the places claiming to have the loosest slots. But even they seem to keep in business.

I guess if you have Celine Dion or Chippendales it doesn't really matter how loose your slots are.

Posted by Kristen at Wed Mar 26 2008 14:33

All interesting points. At the risk of sounding like a Sunday school teacher I think (everyone has their own interpretations and opinions) rather than "moderation in all things" we should "use the spirit in all things". I have checked the BOM and Bible and no where does it say moderation in all things. It only talks about personal revelation and gaining it through the spirit.

Everything is so gray, but I like things to be black and white and I think if it were that simple then there would be no point to our life on this earth. If we didn't have the veil then we wouldn't need Heavenly Father's help and we wouldn't have to humble ourselves to ask those tough questions.

That's my religious take on it. Philosophical takes on it all have good points. Where do you draw the line? I don't know if you can truly answer that because everyone comes from a different walk of life and beliefs and they draw upon those which can be completely different than yours. I think the only way you can answer it is personally. "Teach the saints principles and let them govern themselves." You can't micro-manage because it is carrying out God's plan through Satan's way.

Sorry for being the religious zealot. I just don't think I can separate the two in my mind.

Posted by Susie at Thu Mar 27 2008 11:59

Kristen, I agree about things not being simple for a reason.

"Moderation in all things" is a philosophy extrapolated from Aristotle's teachings, not from the scriptures. The principle is there, however. Excess easily becomes a sin (gluttony, covetousness, anger). The Word of Wisdom teaches us moderation in our eating habits, while prohibiting certain things at the same time.

Posted by Joe Walch at Thu Mar 27 2008 16:00

Kristen is right about the 'moderation in all things' schtick. I think that came more from Aristotle and Augustine than from anything in the scriptures.

Dang it!! Susie beat me to the Aristotle punch. I have to be more OCD about reading blogs.

With age, I have found myself becomming less and less ideologic. Victor Hugo said something about that, i.e. the more we age, the more sympathetic we become. e.g. I am not a Democrat, but I do have some democratic sympathies.

On the Final Four thing, I personally find it unpalatable, and I simply explain to other people that it's simply a waste of time for me. I tend to be more ideologic, however with things like RU-486. I suppose I choose my battles. Alcohol is another point which people from school ask me about, and I have decided that if the Word of Wisdom didn't proscribe alcohol, then I would almost certainly be an occasional wine-drinker. I explain to them that I don't think they are being immoral for drinking, simply that I have chosen not to drink out of deference to my religious heritage (and because I generally also think it is best not to drink for health reasons).

[Main] [Edit]

© 2003-2011 John Chadwick.