When innumeracy kills

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Covid risk of harm

In mid-November a fundamentalist Tulsa megachurch held a packed, largely-maskless Christian concert for 2500 people. I’ll deal with the theological ironies in a later post, but despite their likely support for “Right to Life,” I can confidently say that, statistically, the attendees surely murdered people with the coronavirus that night, perhaps people even not in attendance. Ignorance of basic mathematics… Read more »

Chasing Benford’s Law down an election rabbit hole

Nautilus shell

Benford’s Law is a fun statistical phenomenon that this blog has explored a couple of times, most notably here. Benford has gained a sudden new popularity among 2020 election conspiracy sites, alleging huge vote rigging, but only in states where Donald Trump lost. However, this technique is invariably misused and misunderstood in these applications, and so, this is my attempt… Read more »

Seven bets on your 2021 Medicare supplement

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Medigap thumbnail

We are in that season, especially in Florida where I live, when my mail is flooded daily with Medicare switching come-ons, and every other television commercial seems to be pitching me as well. One of my most-viewed posts from last year was my advice to treat this decision as a series of bets on “your money or your life.” This… Read more »

The intentional kneecapping of mail voting

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I-Voted

Early in the summer I published a well-retweeted post about why mail-in voting is, from a CPA’s perspective, a far more auditable voting method than even most traditional in-person systems. As mail and absentee voting have exploded beyond all records in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, however, a very real weakness lurking in mail voting systems has emerged that… Read more »

When the Pope is a better lawyer than Amy Coney Barrett

God

I had thought that we were basically done with the legality issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States, but the elevation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and a recent Supreme Court dissent by Justices Alito and Thomas demonstrate that we still have “a failure to communicate” here. The right of LGBTQ people to cohabit legally… Read more »

Donald Trump’s tax problems revisited

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Trump Hotel Sign

Note: This is a cross-post with the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. Ever since I began this blog in January of 2018, Donald Trump’s “not-normal” finances have been in my head and have appeared in this blog numerous times. Now that the media frenzy over his Covid diagnosis has abated somewhat, perhaps we can get back to Trump’s financial frauds. In… Read more »

Moral luck, Donald Trump and the coronavirus

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Trump Covid

The concept of moral luck is one of the more curious sidelines in the study of ethics, at the intersection of moral philosophy and mathematics. However, Donald Trump’s bizarre reactions up to, during, and after contracting Covid-19 make for a great opportunity to look at the concept. In short, President Trump first ascribed his escape from Covid for the first… Read more »

The disqualifying hubris of Amy Coney Barrett

Trump & Barrett

Hubris was a common theme in ancient Greek theater. Excessive pride and arrogance were punished by the gods with a spectacular fall from grace and power. And hubris seems to be a requirement for recent nominees to the Supreme Court. However, the hubris being shown by Judge Amy Coney Barrett in her ill-timed nomination is so egregious that she must… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 2

Nursing home

Part One of this series laid out the cashflows draining middle-class estates in the final years of life into the “eldercare industry.” In my view, this is a significant contributor to rising income inequality. Middle-class wealth in the U.S. does not get passed on to the next generation, leaving that group to start over from scratch.  My own children’s generation… Read more »