Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Never tell me the odds" - Han Solo

In the lead up to the BIG one I bought a Big Wednesday lotto ticket. I could do with 36 million dollars and I don’t care what the experts say, I guarantee that if I’da won, I’d be substantially happier than I am at the moment.

I get a bit sick of the number manipulators telling us the odds of winning lotto are a million squazillion to one, a similar chance to being hit by lightening 16 times in your life, or the same odds as being discovered in a Pac n Save store by George Clooney and swept off to live with him in his California mansion (same column above).

The statisticians salivate over boring us with the odds of actually winning lotto. I guess they have to justify their salaries somehow.

I reckon the odds of winning are actually pretty simple. Either I will win or I won’t. In my book that makes the odds 50/50, which are actually pretty good.

Some smart person once said – I’m paraphrasing here, and in no way claiming it as mine – that if the chances of winning the lottery were the same as being hit by an asteroid, how come someone isn’t hit by an asteroid every week?

It’s true, isn’t it, that nearly every week somebody wins a pretty hefty amount of cash on Lotto. Last week a “normal” family won $36 million. Recently someone else won 5 million. Nearly every Saturday somebody wins a million.

So, if every week somebody wins lotto, why would it not be me? If it HAS to be someone, why not me? Exclude those few people trying to tip the "odds" by spending a forune on tickets, and if you have Joe Average spending twenty or thirty bucks on a random numbers ticket, don’t we each have similar odds? I’m no mathematician, but if we mostly have similar odds, then it could as easily be me who wins as not. Isn’t that a 50/50 chance?

“Odds” implies a certain non-randomness. If the “odds” are one in 2.7 million, then a win is guaranteed if I attempt lotto 2.7 million times. But if lotto is TRULY random, as it is purported to be, then “odds” does not apply. It cannot apply. I could try lotto 70 million times and still not win. But equally I could win on the very first try. It’s like flipping a coin. Statistically, because it is random, I could flip a thousand coins and never guess the right result. Or I could guess it right each time. Overall, the odds MIGHT be stretched as the number of tries grows, but each individual attempt is simply 50/50. The only valid statistic remains the I-might-or-might-not-win one.

Of course, there is one other relevant statistic when it comes to lotto. It is the one guarantee in relation to lotto. If you don’t have a ticket, you definitely won’t win.

I don’t buy a lotto ticket every week. Someone said if you put the twenty bucks you’d spend on lotto in a tin every week, you’d be a thousand bucks better off at the end of the year. That may be true, even if a bit mind-numbingly dull.

Powerball is up to about 4 million again this week, I think. I’m in. Hey, with 50/50 odds, why not?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Out of Touch

I love it when one of our elected officials says something so stupid it reinforces how completely out of touch they are.

"While incidents of violence against teachers always concern me greatly, fortunately they are relatively infrequent in New Zealand."

Well, that's a relief, especially for teachers, I'm sure.

Except, in just the paragraph before, the report says that in 2007 there were 815 reported assaults on teachers by pupils. 815.

Do the math. 52 weeks less school holidays, five days in each of those weeks, not taking into account teacher-only days and public holidays, 815 assualts on teachers by pupils in one school year, if my math is correct makes a little over 4 per day.

Four assaults on teachers by pupils every day in New Zealand. And those are the reported ones. How many go unreported?

I would like to ask the Honourable Anne Tolley what, if not four per day, constitutes "relatively frequent"?

You could break it down further, could you not? The school day is six hours long. Four assaults per day. That means a teacher is assaulted by a pupil every hour and a half in New Zealand.

"Relatively infrequent"? Good one Anne.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Greed Greed Greed

This is the kind of stuff that STEAMS me the most, especially in this current financial "crisis" (crisis? Yeah right).

Willie Walsh (never heard of him, but what an unfortunate name) has asked BA staff to work for nothing. As a token, he too has offered to work for a month for free. That's big of him, isn't it?

Of course, what is somewhat underplayed is that he earns more per month than most of his employees make in a year! (At least the employees he's asking to take a pay cut!)

Grrrr. I HATE this kind of hypocrisy!

If he really wants to save the company from bankruptcy, why doesn't he agree to work eleven months for free! Work for a normal wage. Sixty grand a year, which I'm assuming is a half decent whack in the UK? And which he fully expects his staff to live on. And demand all the other execs at BA who are making a half million or more a year to accept a less OBSCENE salary!

Call me bitter, but it smacks of SUCH hypocrisy that someone earning £735000 a year is asking low level staff to take a pay cut. And of course, it's not limited to British Airways. Show me any big corporation going bust in the financial "crisis" and I'll show you executives who are still earning massive salaries. While they run the company into the ground, they still collect fat pay cheques, obscene bonuses, and share offers that with their inside knowledge they can sell before the company goes belly up.

One company in Christchurch went bust. LWR. Been around for a hundred years. A century! And I gotta ask. What were the company's leadership DOING for those HUNDRED years? Obviously not preparing the company for down turns. A hundred years of profit and suddenly they're out of business? What's that about? Did they not think maybe they better put a bit of cash away for tough times? I wonder what bonuses were paid out to the executives over those hundred years?

Most executives don't give a shit about their staff. They don't give a shit about their companies, other than to secure their own salaries and bonuses. They don't care about community. They don't care about society or the economy, other than to maintain their place within the elite. They will stomp on any employee beneath them to save their own asses. It's not personal, it's business. The second it became "business" Western civilisation was screwed. Nobody cares about anybody any more. There's no more personal, it's all business.

I'm really sick of politicians and the rest of the elite screwing the rest of us. It's been that way for centuries, if not since civilisation began. The same people who make and enforce the laws are the ones who benefit most from keeping the masses under the burden of those laws.

Willie Walsh is representative of the GREED is good mentality. I don't necessarily begrudge him a huge salary, but I do, in these times, resent his plea that the little people take a pay cut while he still banks fourteen thousand pounds a week! And I resent that while he banks that fourteen grand a week, the company he heads goes down the drain. If he loses his job, it will no doubt be cushioned by a huge settlement package, while the staff that he dumps will have to go straight onto welfare and the mortgagee sale pile.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Th Internet SUX! (and Bachelor spoiler!)

It's been a weird week. Monday I had a croaky voice, which some of the girls at work actually thought was sexy.What's with that? Tuesday morning I had to go to work at 430 am. But I had no voice whatsoever. So I persevered for two hours, explaining to every new customer that I had lost my voice in a raspy whisper that was nothing short of embarrassing. So I got replaced at 6am and went home. Most of the rest of the week was spent whispering and coughing.

I couldn't wait any longer. I had to check The Bachelor website to see who Jason picks. And of ALL the bachelorettes he has to chose from, I would have chosen Melissa. Cute. Funky. Oh, and big boobs. Who did Jason pick. Well, Melissa of course. But apparently she "changed" after the final rose ceremony and he dumped her and proposed to Molly instead. Oh well.

I've decided the Internet SUX! Obviously it has it uses, but so too does it have some serious limitations. Somehow I imagine the Internet to be something like the computer on the Enterprise or the one in I, Robot. What was her name? Vicki? Anyway, it's like you ask a question, and no matter how obscure the question or distant the event or person, the answer is right before you in a matter of nano-seconds. Comprehensive, complete. Literally the entire gammut of knowledge at your fingertips.

But no. I'm looking for names, people, dates. Prominent Christchurch people from the era (1910-1945). Nothin. Well, not nothin, but so little. Next to nothin. So I start digging at the public library. Not much. National Library. Nothin. Alexander Turnbull Library online. His name. No link. No info. Births Deaths and Marriages. No help. Every major search engine. Nothin.

So obviously the Internet is useless. So I start trawling hard copies of newspapers (well, microfiche) and it's like a needle in a haystack. Prominent Christchurch people and events have NOTHING recorded about them.

But then I'm thinking THIS is what I was born to do. It's frustrating but I'm loving it. I was born to research. When I was working at Canterbury University as a researcher I loved it. I felt like I was in my element.

And I think I'm onto something. Either nobody's bothered to do the research, or somebody has tried and hit a wall and gave up. Hopefully it's the former and the latter doesn't happen to me. Two of the top "experts" at Canterbury haven't heard of my people, but agree it's worth pursuing.

Could be a book in it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

"I sh******** p******"

I think they've got the syntax right, but the actual words wrong.

When I heard the recording of Bain's 111 call, the unedited version, it was just so obvious that I can't believe seven world "experts" couldn't figure out what he was saying. It's clear.

There's definitely a "sh" sound, and I'm pretty sure there's a "p" sound. And it's unlikely that he would call 111 and then admit to killing his father.

He didn't say "I shot the prick." He was so clearly saying "I shit my pants" that I'm thinking of calling the defence team to help them dispel this silly rumour that he's saying "I shot the prick." Hullo! If I can figure that out, how come these seven figure salaried experts can't agree?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Plain dishonest

Two of the things that bug me the most are poor service, and misleading advertising. Unfortunately, the wonderful, modern society we have created is bursting at the seams with both.

We were at the Warehouse, looking for some t-shirts for Chris. We see this sign. We like the Match brand t-shirts hanging behind this sign. 25% off sounds good. We grab a couple. I want one for me. I grab another one. At the counter we discover the t-shirts we have are not on sale.

Hmm . . . I could have sworn they were.

Not wishing to make a scene, however, I buy them anyway, at full price. Oh well, it's only five bucks more, eh. Each.

But then I got to thinking. I'm sure Match clothing was on sale. Now it's the principle. I sent Chris to the foyer and I went back to the rack. Took this photo. All Match clothing 25% off. Went back to the Service (LOL) Desk.

Now, this is where I really begin to get annoyed.

Apparently, ALL Match clothes are on sale except "t-shirts". The shirts we have are, of course, t-shirts. There's nothing I could do. I could probably get a refund. But we like the shirts. So I skulk away, beaten.

And here's what I think. They do it ON PURPOSE. They have all these SALE signs around, but exclude some items from the sale, acknowledging it only in the fine print. They KNOW that by the time you get to the counter, you've already made the sale in your head, and will likely, even if grudgingly, pay full price. And if that's not enough to hawk their goods, the final assurance they have is that most people will not want to make a scene at the check-out counter, with, invariably, a line of frustrated shoppers behind them.

If that sign is not misleading to an unsuspecting public, then what is?