“The lottery’s only objective is to maximize the funds you pay for educational activities.”

Salil Mehta:

One should remember that the only objective for the Lottery, anywhere in the world, is not to make you rich. Contrary to their advertisements, the objective is not to show you a good time. Wasting your money is never a good time. The lottery’s only objective is to maximize the funds you pay for educational activities. The lottery does this by taking all of the proceeds, then first diverting nearly 45% of it towards educational benefits, and also towards store commissions and advertisements designed to trick you into spending more into the system. Say you played 292 million times with hypothetically a $1 ticket, and then won exactly one time. In this case your reward would not be anywhere close to $292m. The funnel would start at a gross level of just 55% of $292m (or a loss of $131m on your ticket purchases since 45% was skimmed straight away to the government). And then your net amount would still be less than this 55% gross payout, since this reward is again taxed as income. There is nothing sexy about this arrangement; it extorts a non-tax deductible dollar from you and many others, who could least afford it. And each time putting offering 55 cents into a community savings jar, until one day that amassed jar is given to basically just one person at random (but not before the government comes back to tax that jar as “income”). The whole scheme is an educational tax for those who instead could use a free education in probability theory.

A loser’s lottery [StatisticalIdeas]

April 26, 2016  |  

Szamanka (1996)

IMDb / Amazon

My second favorite Zulawski (RIP) movie after Possession. Iwona Petry’s performance is nothing short of amazing.

Zulawski on casting Petry:

She [Petry] never acted before. I found her in a cafe; I saw every possible young actress in Poland in order to cast the film, and I was so really nervous and then happy to the point of saying “I won’t do the film” because they are trained young actresses in an obvious way; “I’m an actress, I can act” Yeah! You can act, but I don’t want to look at you acting, that’s the problem. She was a student at the University, extremely poor and she just entered into a café and she had these red hands because it was cold, and I was with the producer and I said “this is her”. He said “are you mad?”, and we… she… did it.

Soundtrack supplied by the legendary Polish composer and frequent Zulawski collaborator Andrzej Korzynski.

“Donald J. Trump’s vision for the future of our nation is as deeply disturbing as it is profoundly un-American.”

Boston Globe editorial board:

Donald J. Trump’s vision for the future of our nation is as deeply disturbing as it is profoundly un-American.

It is easy to find historical antecedents. The rise of demagogic strongmen is an all too common phenomenon on our small planet. And what marks each of those dark episodes is a failure to fathom where a leader’s vision leads, to carry rhetoric to its logical conclusion. The satirical front page of this section attempts to do just that, to envision what America looks like with Trump in the White House.

It is an exercise in taking a man at his word. And his vision of America promises to be as appalling in real life as it is in black and white on the page. It is a vision that demands an active and engaged opposition. It requires an opposition as focused on denying Trump the White House as the candidate is flippant and reckless about securing it.

PDF here.

The GOP must stop Trump [BostonGlobe]

April 11, 2016  |