My day job is negativist. In my spare time I try to earn some scrillas for survival. After that, the bulk of the remainder of my time is spent philosophizing and inventing. And pondering the ways of love. And packing lots and lots of boxes.
What I’m saying is I invented a new gambling game and I’m giving it to the world for free. In that way I’m just like the fellow that found the cure to polio and didn’t try to exploit it for big bucks.
Yeah, we need more gambling, so I hope this catches on.
Like most of my inventions, necessity turned out to be one fantastic mother. And, like most of our most harrowing tales, it all started one Christmas not too many years ago…
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“Grandpa, tell me the story again,” the little snot-nose whined.
The old man sighed. On the other hand, there was no one else around and he was bored. And he did love having an audience.
“It was a long, long time ago,” he said easily. By now the story was an old friend. It was like slipping his toes into a well worn pair of penny loafers with old leather comfortably broken in. Not at all like plastic, like Crocs, that all the snot-nosed sons of bitches called “shoes” these days.
“I think the year was 2013. Yeah, that was the last time it happened. The likes of which the world has never seen again.”
“Back then,” the old man continued, “I was still able to drive a car. The snot noses hadn’t taken away my license yet in the name of public safety. I think I must have been about 104.”
“So there I was, minding my business, driving through town. Yup, yup. Don’t interrupt, snot nose. This town. The very same town you and I still call home.”
“You know,” the old man paused, reminiscing, “back then it was still possible to hit a green light.” He shook his head. It was best not to think about such things.
“What’s a green light,” the kid interjected.
“I told ya, snot nose. Don’t interrupt yer elders. You want the story or not?”
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Here’s a disgusting piece of unfinished shit. No, not Jessica Alba. I’m talking about another unfinished flotsam from my Drafts folder. See how much I value you, the loyal reader? I’m still suffering a severe case of writer’s block so this is what happens.
Thus we launch yet another meme here on the blog. This one is called “Tales from the Drafts Folder.”
Just for the hell of it, I decided to calculate the odds off me and Jessica Alba hooking up. It could happen.
- Population of Earth: 7 billion (rounded up from 6.75 billion)
- The population is about 50/50 by gender
- There is only one Jessica Alba
- There is only one precious and special snowflake known as “me”
Complicated mathematics formulae go here.
Q: Assuming a random “getting jiggy with it” between one male and one female on planet Earth, what are the odds it would be Jessica Alba and Tom B. Taker?
A. One in 12,250,000,000,000,000,000.
Unfortunately, that number is so big, I don’t even know what it is called. Probably something like a bouillon. So we’ll just use our poetic license and say the odds are about one in 12.3 bouillon.
That’s like winning the Powerball lottery 62.7 billion times. So I’m hopeful.
I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that I write my own material. The bad news, well, look above and see for yourself. 🙂
I wrote the joke above while thinking about odds and probabilities, especially in terms of events like the Indiana State Fair and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.
We often hear things expressed in probabilities. For example, “This luxurious home is offered at only $999,995. It is located on a 100-year flood plain.”
According to Wikipedia: “A one-hundred-year flood is calculated to be the level of flood water expected to be equaled or exceeded every 100 years on average.”
“A 100-year flood has approximately a 63.4% chance of occurring in any 100-year period, not a 100 percent chance of occurring.”
Interesting. I did not know that. I assume that such estimates are based on a lot on factors like recorded history and an evaluation of as many guessable variables as possible. But who knows how accurate such things are?
In the case of something like a nuclear reactor, I always wonder how they can estimate the probability of something for which no history yet exists. Truth be told, it sounds a lot like total theory and guesswork to me.
Is it the height of hubris to think we really know the odds of what might happen, what might be possible? And do we always tend to err on the side we favor? And if so, what is the cost of this bias?
Remember the earthquake in Japan? The one that led to a tsunami that caused problems with nuclear power plants?
Oh wait, that’s not quite over yet, is it?
I still remember what Glenn Beck had to say about the earthquake. It was just a little over a month ago circa March 15, 2011:
“I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well — I’m not not saying that either. What God does is God’s business, I have no idea. But I’ll tell you this: whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus — there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.”
I decided to try to think logically about the sneaky assertions in this statement. (I’ve already written about the snarkiness of phrasing crapola in the form of a question, unless one is playing Jeopardy.)
His little statement packs quite a wallop. I will try to break it down:
- There is a God
- God caused the earthquake
- The earthquake was a message
- The “messages” will continue until and unless we change our evil ways – the aforementioned “stuff we’re doing”
Remember, though, he presented most of this in the form of questions. We can stipulate he fervently believes the first one. Either that or he’s the best faker of all time, something decidedly not outside the realm of possibility.
The first assertion is one I ponder often. I tend to think of it in binary terms. It’s a true/false proposition. I believe it is something that is either true or false. To me, that seems fairly axiomatic.
One of my favorite lines of reasoning goes: “If there is no God then a lot of people are sure flaming assholes.” Mostly the ones who run around telling everyone else they are going to Hell, cashing in on religion, and stuff like that. On the other hand, there are a lot of devout and good people who truly believe, too. I can’t really find it in my heart to fault anyone for trying to live the best moral life they possibly can. Just as long as they aren’t flaming hypocrites about it, they’re fine with me.
No one can prove there is a God, nor can they prove there isn’t. Thus, I suggest we look at the probability of each possible outcome (true/false) as equally likely. (Personally, though, I’m certain there isn’t a God. But that’s just a belief.) So, in mathematical terms, the odds of each outcome is 50 percent. It’s just like flipping a coin.
Heads. There is a God. Tails. There is no God.
Let’s consider the next statement. God caused the earthquake. Again, I suggest we look at this as true/false, with each outcome equally likely. That means to get to Beck’s position that there is a God and God caused the earthquake we have to flip a coin and get heads twice in a row.
Next, we add another true/false condition for the earthquake being a message.
Lastly, we add on final true/false condition for the idea that the messages will continue unless we stop being evil. I assume this means stuff like fornication, homosexuality, etc. He’s a little vague about what “stuff” he’s talking about.
What we’re left with is a model a four true/false possibilities in a row. You can break down the odds of acheiving a particular chain of outcomes like this:
- 1 in 2
- 1 in 4
- 1 in 8
- 1 in 16
In other words, the odds of flipping a coin and getting heads four times in a row is 1 in 16.
This probability of this can be represented mathematically as: .5 x .5 x .5 x .5. That equals .0625 which is exactly what you get if you calculate 1 divided by 16.
If you look at it this way, there’s only a 6.25 percent chance this particular serpent’s statements are correct. In my book that’s what we call a long shot. Or maybe “snake oil” would be a better term.
This is my “T” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”
I recently found myself at a Native American gaming facility. (Is that preferable to “Indian Casino” or does it make a difference?) After parking my keister in front of an idiotic machine for a few hours of “entertainment” I walked away with a 10 percent increase in my net worth. (No, I didn’t make a mistake here. I didn’t mean to say “bankroll.” I literally mean my net worth.)
In other words I started with $20 and and ended up with $22. Now that is ROI, baby. Woot.
The penny slot machine I was playing would pay about $1,800 if you hit the “progressive” jackpot while playing at least five lines. That’s five cents a spin. A little rich for my blood but I tried it for a while. And to cut any sense of drama short, no, I did not land a “jackpot” for the first time in my life.
To win the jackpot one must score the special symbol on all three wheels and on the same payline at the same time. I naturally found myself curious about the odds.
That wheel looked big. The don’t tell you exactly how big so I can only guess. I estimated that it might have 20 to 100 locations on it. Yes, the blank spots between the artwork count, too, those snarky bastards.
If the wheels had 20 spots I calculated the odds of a jackpot at one in 8,000. No way. That’s way too low.
How did I calculate that? It’s easy. Just multiply 20 (the estimated number of spots per wheel) by itself three times (the number of wheels). 20 times 20 times 20 equals 8,000. Viola!
If the wheels have 50 spots the odds jumped to 1 in 125,000. Now we’re getting somewhere.
If the wheels have 80 spots the odds are an astronomical 1 in 512,000. That’s approximately one jackpot in every half million spins. In other words, if I visited the casino and did 3,000 spins per day, it would take me, on average, about 170 days to get a jackpot. Since I only go to the casino about four times a year, that works out to be about 42 years at my current rate of play.
I’m not holding my breath. 🙂
By the way, the calculations above assume that the slot machine is “fair.” In other words, that the odds of the special symbol showing up is really the same as every other space on the wheel. I have no idea of knowing if that is true or not. Something tells me that in this era of computer-generated outcomes on gaming machines that the mathematics won’t work out just like that. Shouldn’t the operators of gaming machines be required to tell you the odds?
Here comes the awkward segue…
I have two kitty cats. I’m in charge of scooping doody duty. We initially bought a plastic scoop. It turns out that thing is literally a piece of shit. If I could somehow find the people who made that thing (AKA the people who got my money) I’d have a thing or two to tell them. I imagine I might find them in China.
Anywho, we decided we had gone cheap on the wrong household tool. The plastic scoop was literally falling apart. My wife and I tried, during the span of a few months, to hit the local pet store when we were out on the town. The store was always closed. Nothing ever seemed to work out.
Yesterday, however, we went in our separate ways. Later in the day when we met back in the house, we both had a shiny new metal scooper. After months of wanting one somehow it worked out that we both bought one on the very same day.
I found myself thinking, “What in the hell are the odds of that?” Assuming there are 363 days in a year (the pet store is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) and there are only two of us, the equation to calculate these odds is: 365 times 365 = 131,769.
Something tells me instead of a damn pooper scooper we should have purchased lotto tickets yesterday.
Hello my fellow blog monkeys!
I recently heard about a book entitled “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture” by Andrew Keen. This isn’t any breaking or exciting news. The book has been out since 2007. But it is news to me. So I thought I’d monkey on about it.
The premise of the book is basically that “amateur” content, like our humble little blogs, threatens to clog vital information on the internet. Keen’s book also claims that blogs do very little to further knowledge and understanding since they basically represent the limited world views of their amateur authors.
I went to his official web site looking for a little bit more information about him and his book. I clicked the link for his book and it took me to a page that said, “The item does not exist.” That outcome amused me greatly. Amateur indeed. Well played, Mr. Keen! 🙂
In addition to his book, Keen is also famous for this quote:
…instead of creating masterpieces, these millions and millions of exuberant monkeys –many with no more talent in the creative arts than our primate cousins – are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity.
Don’t hold back, Andrew. Tell us how you really feel. I can only assume, after reviewing his web site, that his feelings on the matter haven’t changed.
Can I write as well as Keen? Hells no. I’m sure that compared to him I suck. I can barely understand the grammars and all the other things. I’m probably one whisker’s breadth removed from a LOL cat.
Something tells me, however, that there is more to it than Keen is willing to admit. Does a blogger, even an “amateur” one, have to have the writing skills of Mr. Keen in order to be entertaining? Interesting? Factual? I say, “Nay!” I bet they hardly don’t and stuff.
You don’t have to have perfect grammar and wonderful writing skills to make valid points. Even someone peeing their pants while standing in the batter’s box at home plate can get an accidental “bloop” base hit while flinching in uncontrollable fear. 🙂
Keen’s comment about “exuberant monkeys” is a reference to what Wikipedia calls the “infinite monkey theorem” which states:
A monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.
I think most of us have heard about that theorem at some point. Did you also know that you can actually calculate the odds? 🙂 You can find out a lot more than you ever dreamed of about this on the Wikipedia page, including mathematical formulas and such.
I have a passing fancy with probability and statistics. Anyone who has played Monopoly knows that a dice has a one in six chance of showing any given number. Most who have played the casino game of craps know that the odds of a certain outcome with two dice is one in 36. In short, that’s because casino dice have six sides and six multiplied by six equals 36.
The same concept can be extended to the infinite monkey theorem. By setting some conditions, like a keyboard with only 26 characters, one for each letter of the alphabet, you know the odds of each letter will be one in 26. (We’ll use a keyboard with only 26 keys since we’re not going to worry about things like punctuation, capitalization and grammar.) With those parameters defined, the odds for randomly typing sequences of letters can now be calculated.
Let’s say you want a one-letter word. The odds are 1 in 26.
For a two-letter word the odds are 1 in 676.
For a three-letter word the odds jump to 17,575. If a monkey had “eternity” I’m sure he could pump out three-letter words all the time.
What about a word like “Hamlet,” however? That’s a pretty necessary word to the complete works of Shakespeare. It turns out that a six-letter word like that on our special keyboard, the odds are a whopping 1 in 308,915,776. And that’s only a six-letter word! This result also assumes that the monkey is remarkably consistent and hits all keys on an equal basis. We all know he wouldn’t really do that. 🙂
Let’s forget about the “complete works” of Shakespeare and only worry about one play, like Hamlet. According to Wikipedia there are about 130,000 characters in Hamlet.
In the case of the entire text of Hamlet, the probabilities are so vanishingly small they can barely be conceived in human terms.
Interesting, eh? Oh shit, what am I talking about? You’re all long gone by now. 🙂
Even though the task seems daunting, this particular monkey is going to keep up the good fight and keep pounding this keyboard as much as I can. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get lucky.
Hey, what’s that button there? PUSH! “Mmmmmm! Banana!”