Saturday, May 03, 2008

Mad Money, Yo-Yo, and Eudaemons

I'm not usually a big Charlie Rose fan, but I'm a fan of HBO's From the Earth to the Moon so I watched this episode. Strange combination of three segments: Jim Cramer (the Mad Money guy with the yelling and sound effects on CNBC), followed by (starting at 8:37) Andy Chaikin and Tom Hanks talking about From the Earth to the Moon, then (starting at 35:30) Yo-Yo Ma.

Speaking of moon stuff, an Apollo 11 fecal bag sold for over $200 recently. Unused, thank goodness.

In other news of the weird, the Biography Channel has been showing the "breaking vegas" episode about the UCSC folks who used computers controlled by toe switches to predict the results of sloppily installed roulette wheels. The remarkable thing was this was in the 1980s. When I used to teach the CSci 1 class the book (The Eudaemonic Pie) was on my list of books they might be interested in, along with other books like Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer. They roulette people went on to apply chaos theory to investment.

Instead of counting cards at the blackjack table, or looking for non-uniform routlette wheels, why not buy lotto tickets? If each one dollar ticket gets you a 1-in-X chance of winning, and the jackpot is over $X, isn't your expected return greater than $1? Kind of, but to get jackpots that high a lot of people buy tickets, which means you would probably have to share the winnings, reducing the expected return. But sometimes it works :) Scroll to the bottom to see an example of covering all the numbers in Jai Alai.