Monthly Archives: January 2018

Cancer, probability, normality and theodicy – part 1

  

I have posted recently about the lotteries that you will likely lose and the lotteries you have already won. In this post I want to talk about the math of a lottery you might win, but really do not want to. And understanding the math here is to get to a closer understanding of probability and fate in nature. Every… Read more »

The probability of coincidence

  

I have a series of posts coming up about the probabilities attached to the “out of left field” events that hit your life like cancer, how to understand the statistics, and how we have attached various personal “theodices” (the “justice of God”) to these events. Some of that is a bit of downer, so I thought I would post a… Read more »

Income inequality and the Rule of 72 – part 3

  

“If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.” Entrepreneur and investor Nick Hanauer. [1] Part One of this series looked at how some basic compounded income growth projections with fairly-low rate differentials could alone result in fast-widening income inequality, and then Part… Read more »

You are a lottery winner!

  

In an earlier post I described why you are probably not a big lottery winner, but there is one case in which you already are one. The mathematical odds in favor of YOU being here to read this were incredibly low. Yet Poisson’s Law of Large Numbers presented in that earlier post, paired with an understanding of birth rates and… Read more »

Worth a listen: A Swedish singer-songwriter with my name

  

I was in Malmö, Sweden (which is just across the strait from Copenhagen, Denmark), a few years ago when I came across a concert notice for a local Swedish singer-songwriter who coincidentally shares my name, Richard Lindgren. We had to leave Malmö, his hometown, the next day and missed seeing him perform, but I have been buying his music ever since…. Read more »

Income inequality and the Rule of 72 – part 2

  

The first part of this series of posts showed how small differences in average pay increases over time can explain much, if not most, most of the wide spread of income growth cited as evidence of income inequality. The question addressed in this part is whether the historical record supports this assertion. Part Three, in the queue, will look at… Read more »

Why there is always a winner, but it’s probably not you

  

I’d like to move away from the topic of lotteries, but not yet, because this is the window through which most people normally experience a very counter-intuitive mathematical law concerning probability and randomness. Indeed, the worldwide lottery business is primarily based on the assumption that the operators know this law and you don’t. Setting up a truly-random and fair lottery… Read more »

Worth a listen: “On the Media” talks to the Pentagon Papers author

  

We finally made the time to see the Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks film “The Post,” about the Washington Post’s coverage of the Pentagon Papers, exposing secrets regarding the conduct of the Vietnam War. The film is well worth seeing, and I followed it up with listening to an interview with the lead Pentagon author on the papers, Leslie Gelb, on the… Read more »

Income inequality and the Rule of 72 – part 1

  

Income inequality is an issue fraught with political stake-in-the-ground positioning, but there is some very basic math that, if understood, deflates a lot of the political grandstanding from either side. If we get the math out of the way then perhaps the policy implications and choices become clearer. The first principle applied here is that nature itself does not usually… Read more »

Progressive or conservative? No, “payday lender.”

  

I have been working on a three-part post about the math of “income inequality” which goes online tomorrow and over the next week. I think it takes an important and different tack from other viewpoints. Hint: the newest tax law will only make income inequality worse. I am still banging my head trying to pin the “Tax Cuts and Jobs… Read more »