Stochastic Changes 
Monday, August 21, 2006, 08:25 PM
Well it's been a while since I've posted here in this little Actuarial Dating blog, so here's the update on the dating schemata.

I had the advice a while back that I should remain who I am, because if I pretend to be something I'm not, then the guy that wants me for exactly who I am will pass me by.

In the past few months I met Jaq. It was really strange. I've read his blog, he's read mine and we empathise on the emotional issues. But when we met in real life, it was different. You can exchange emails all you want, and read what you want, but in the end, a blog can only tell you the perspective that the blogger wants you to see of them. It's a form of highly specialised acting. I know my blogs run different but similar themes and show different aspects of my personality. But if you met me, there's a high chance that you wouldn't even like me or that I'm nothing like how you imagined.

In reality, who AM I? It's not like I'm a deterministic thing, I'm rather stochastic. My equation will never remain static, I will re-declare my variables, add some, drop some at whim or suddenly, correlations to external variables will change in a blink of an eye.

Elm once told me that I shouldn't give people a lot of power to hurt me if I concentrated inwardly and focussed on other areas in life then finding Mr Right. I've always thought that he was wrong. Not working on my own model is the issue, it's how much I'm willing to gamble.

As the old maxim goes, "The higher the risk, the higher the return". But after an extremely painful episode in the last few months where the investment I made (despite knowing it was a bad one) gave me a large negative return, I've become extremely risk adverse. I don't want to give men the power to hurt me anymore, not because I want to concentrate inwardly, but because my utility distribution has become so skewed as my risk aversion has increased exponentially.

From personal statistics, people that I've been attracted to haven't worked out so well so I will no longer weight that indicator so heavily. Being a cautious Actuary, I'm not foolish enough to accept just anybody who crosses my path (the idea being if you lower your standards enough you'll find someone), but at least now I have a high valuation reserve for anyone who does.

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Book Review - Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie 
Monday, May 29, 2006, 04:44 AM

Actuarial Rating: -ln(.6) out of 5
Chick Lit. Rating: 3 out of 5
Overall Rating: (1.07)^10 out of 5

Well in one of my earlier articles, I stated that I never read a romance novel where the hero/heroine was an actuary. However yes, outliers do exist, and by sheer chance, a fellow junior actuarial assistant at the superannuation consulting firm I work at, lent it to me as I simply had to read it (for its novelty value if nothing else).

Realisation soon dawned that such an intriguing premise would be negatively correlated with to a consistently good story. Crusie's writing is fast-paced with funny (but highly improbable) situations. I can appreciate why her books are popular - it belongs to the subset of Chick Lit. and in the Sample Space of books I've read intersecting with that particular subset, comparably not terrible.

However, despite the heroine Minerva being an Actuary, her only truly actuarial feature is her nickname 'Stats' and she sporadically spouts them in the book. I feel that the significance level of this is quite low in the grand scheme of things. Her more distinguishing characteristics appear to be converging towards orgasm as she eats food and weird & wonderful shoes.

As I have once said to Cow, to an actuary (or really to the point, this particular instantiation of actuary), statistics are not something I beat in the face all the time - I just automatically have it on an intuition level. Crusie's attempt to make her character 'actuarial' through random statistic spouting makes her character appear contrived.

I am aware, that isn't much interesting things you can write in the 'exciting' job of an insurance actuary for Chick Lit. (believe me I know working for a General Insurer) but I like my job and I talk about it. I love pricing and hate investments. I make random comments about the state of the insurance market and get fustrated at incomplete data because stupid broking houses don't know how to maintain good records or organise data consistently. Minerva's job seems like a gimmick to the story, as opposed to an intrinsic definition of her personality.

(I do realise that I am being highly hypocritical being that this blog is using actuarial stuff as a gimmick, but at least I am an actuary whereas I'm fairly sure Crusie isn't)

All in all a fun read if you like Chick Lit. - but if you are looking for actuarial goodness, I recommend reading Two Ducks Swimming column in Actuary Australia. Get your copy from the Institue of Actuaries Australia now!

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