Chain migration the old way

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I recently watched an advertisement on Tampa’s WFLA-TV warning me against this danger called “chain migration,” and the racist dogwhistle rang so loudly that my hearing aids picked it up. These advertisements are sponsored by a PAC called NumbersUSA.com, which is really just one guy, Roy Beck, and some anonymous, very rich donors. Beck, it turns out, has a long… Read more »

Albert Einstein and his dice – part 1

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So, about that Albert Einstein quote from which this blog gets its title – it is an interesting story about probability, determinism, fate and physics. You can find different versions, of varying provenance, where Einstein is quoted as saying something like, “God doesn’t play dice with the world.” [1] This quote is cited often by some religious writers to indicate that… Read more »

Why your taxes won’t get simpler

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A major part of the public relations sell accompanying the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” was the idea that Americans would be soon be submitting their taxes on a postcard. The mock-up of the postcard was trumpeted by politicians well after it became patently obvious to most tax professionals that this was not going to happen. In this… Read more »

The math of lots and the Greek Fates

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The drawing of lots, used to determine the outcome of the tied Virginia House of Delegates election noted in a previous post, has a long tradition in western culture, including the two dominant strains represented by the Judeo-Christian Bible and Greek mythology. Mathematically, the drawing of lots is a random number generator modeling a uniform probability distribution.  In this case, like… Read more »

Yes, Virginia, we still draw lots

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The November 2017 Virginia House of Delegates election between Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican David Yancey famously ended in a tie after a disputed recount. The race was especially critical because the party in control of the legislature was dependent on this one election. [1] But what does the basic probability of random error tell us about the outcome of… Read more »

Introduction to this blog

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A Virginia House of Delegates election held in November 2017, between Democrat Shelly Simonds and Republican David Yancey, is the perfect example of the type of news story I will be expounding upon and expanding upon in this blog. This election ended close enough for a recount. The recount first declared Simonds the winner by one vote, and then a… Read more »