Tag Archives: POTUS

Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?

It’s time to play everyone’s favourite game, Who Wants to Be a MBillionaire?

Yes, that’s correct. Billionaire. With a “B”. Billion. If you’re the Koch brothers it might just be enough money to buy an election. It’s enough money to give 999 people you know a million dollars and still have a million left for yourself.

It’s a lot of money.

Of course, I’m talking about the upcoming Powerball lottery jackpot of $1.3 Billion. That’s annuitized, though, which means that you would receive thirty equal payments starting with one this year and then for the next twenty-nine consecutive years. I did the math. The day you cashed in your ticket you would receive a cheque for $43,333,333.33. The last space tourist paid $40,000,000 for a trip to space. This means you could buy a spot on a Russian rocket and spend a week on the International Space Station once a year every year from now until 2044 and still have more than three million dollars a year left over to have some actual fun with, you know, in case a week in space every year isn’t rocking your socks.

NASA took this photo

But is it worth it to buy a ticket?

Well, the odds are what the odds are and every draw they’re the same, whether you play every week or once every ten years. In the case of Powerball, the odds are astronomical. I don’t throw that word around lightly, either. I studied a lot of astrophysics when I was in university, so I understand the concept of astronomical. Time and space are mind-bogglingly huge, and the Powerball odds meet the definition of astronomical. To put it the simplest terms possible, you’re not going to win.

But someone is going to win it eventually, right?

Yes. Someone is going to win, eventually, and they will be the luckiest son of a bitch since Billy Joel married Christie Brinkley.

AP Photo/Ron Frehm

I use a bit of simplified poker math to help me make my decision. In poker, there are a couple ratios that you factor in when you’re playing: pot odds and pot equity.

Pot odds are easy because you simply figure out how much you put in and compare it to how much you get out if you win. If I need to call a bet of $10 and the pot I’ll win is $1000 then my pot odds are 1:100 (winning a hundred times more than I’m betting). In the case of Powerball, you put in $2 and you stand a chance at winning $1,300,000,000. So your “pot odds” are 1:675,000,000. These are great pot odds. Matthew McConaughey would love this much pot.

Now in poker, pot equity gets a little more complicated. It’s simply defined as how much you “own” the pot based on the cards you have and the cards that are still available. For the Powerball lottery simple probably math gives us our chances. In every Powerball draw, a single ticket has a 1 in 292,201,338 chance of winning. This is terrible pot equity.

To put that in perspective a lot of people like to use the “hit by lightning” analogy. I prefer to use something a little more personal, so to put this into perspective let me say that your chances of becoming President of the United States (assuming you are actually American and not someone like Ted Cruz) are one in ten million. Which means you are 29 times more likely to hold the Twitter handle @POTUS at some point in your life than you are to win the Powerball lottery.

POTUS on Twitter

Anyhoo… now that you’ve got your two numbers you can figure out if you should play or not. In poker, this helps determine if you should fold, or chase that card you need for a winning hand. You decide by comparing your pot odds with your pot equity. If your pot odds are better than your pot equity, then go for it.

So, for Powerball, our pot odds are better than our equity (by 3 to 1) and I’ll be buying a single ticket (and not holding my breath). It’s a small price to pay for a potentially massive return. I treat it as entertainment. It’s fun, for however short a time, to have a non-zero chance at winning a billion dollars.

Plus, if you don’t play your chances of winning are guaranteed to be zero, and that pot equity is as bad as it gets.

~ Andrew

P.S. I’m Canadian, so I’m going to have to get one of my friends in MA, RI, or CT to buy me a ticket before Wednesday’s draw. I’ll see you next week when I’m in town and give you 1% of my winnings 😉

Consequences of Freedom

I wasn’t going to use her name because I didn’t want her to get any more attention, but I feel quite strongly that if I sit here twiddling my thumbs and complaining to the couch cushions that that’s the same as condoning what she’s doing.

So here we go…

Until two days ago I had never heard of Jenny Trout. That’s actually a lie. I had heard of her but only in the context of a blog post by Chuck Wendig a couple months ago. He mentioned how he liked her blog (but didn’t agree with one of her positions). Aside from that, I couldn’t have told you two things about her.

Then, two days ago Anne Rice posted a comment on Facebook and Twitter about her support for the website Stop the GR Bullies (GR refers to Goodreads). It’s a website dedicated to calling out authors who bully other authors (for reasons other than a negative review, which I’ll take up in a future post). Anne’s comment was this:

If you click the image it will take you to Anne’s original Facebook post

Attached to this post was a link to an article on STGRB on Jenny Trout, who has taken it upon herself to become the self-appointed literary moral compass of the Internet.

The summary: a (once) best selling author is actively encouraging the banning and/or pirating of another author’s work.

STGRB does not link directly to Jenny’s website but there is a screen grab in their post that contains the URL. I typed it in manually and read Jenny’s article and two things happened:

  1. I felt sick for giving her the site traffic
  2. I gave her a very unflattering nickname. One I’ve been talked out of using for a variety of good reasons (as an aside, I have wonderful writer friends)

In her rant Jenny freely admits that she hasn’t even read this highly-offensive-it-must-be-banned book. She claims it is about the glorification of racism and rape and how this subject matter has no business on the shelves of your local bookstore or on the hard drives of your personal e-readers. It contains BDSM erotica (because that’s all the rage now, with Ms. Trout even penning titles under a pseudonym). It’s also about an actual President of the United States and his actual slave mistress. Oh, and in the book the characters are vampires and/or werewolves. And one more thing: this story is just one in a series with the same underlying characteristics: #BDSM, #erotica, #POTUS, #mistress, #vampires, #werewolves. (hashtag: not my thing).

Ms. Trout rightly points out that since the offensive work is protected under the First Amendment there is no legal recourse for removing the book from shelves (digital or otherwise) so she’s taken it upon herself to start a crusade.

She’s demanding her fans and readers demand Amazon, B&N, Kobo and the like remove this content immediately. If that doesn’t work, and you feel you absolutely must read this book, then go pirate it so at least the author and publisher don’t get any money. 

Um…. excuse me?

I wonder, what would Jenny Trout’s publisher think if another author from another house took issue with one of her books and started a campaign to pirate them?

Let’s be perfectly clear: racism and rape are bad. Together they comprise the Daily Double of humans at their absolute worst. However, in a free society, no one person / group / organization / government gets to take away the right for someone else to write about it – and by my assessment that’s exactly what Jenny is trying to do.

Express your displeasure with the book to your heart’s content. Tell people it’s not worth reading, that it’s a glorification of All Things Terrible, that they are bad people for even reading the synopsis. But don’t you dare go down the road of book banning. Book banning is half a step removed from book burning, and we all know what history (and Ray Bradbury) has to say about that, now don’t we?

Free speech does not mean you are free from the consequences of saying or writing things to which others object. For the book and author Jenny Trout saw fit to attack, the consequences will be determined by the reviews it receives, the number of sales, the number of future sales or publishing deals for the author (or lack thereof), and so on… The system is already set up to self-regulate in this regard. Time and reader response will tell.

As for Jenny Trout, her consequences appear to be the ostracizing of  a whole swath of readers (and probably publishers) that aren’t going to touch her books or her blog with a ten foot fishing pole – myself included.

~ Andrew