The Monty Hall Goat Trick

Friday, 28 November 2008 17:42 by The Lunatic

Here is one of my favorite math puzzles – commonly known as the “Monty Hall Goat Trick”.  It’s a wonderfully delicious problem that plays with your head. It has a psychological component that makes even the brightest of people swear that the obvious answer is the correct one, but it’s not!

The game was a regular feature on “Let’s Make A Deal” – a strangely popular show back in the 70’s with legendary game show host Monty Hall. Pop culture at its finest (well, along with “The Gong Show”, of course).  During the show, some very lucky (and usually crazily dressed) person was selected from the studio audience to play the game, and had the chance to win A BRAND NEW CAR! (this became Monty Hall’s catchphrase).

The puzzle has been discussed on hundreds of website, so it’s nothing new, but it's still one of my favorites. Stay with me if you haven’t run across this problem before …

Let’s say you are the lucky participant that gets selected to play the game out of the studio audience. The rules of the game are simple:

  • There are three doors.  Behind two doors is a goat and behind one of the three doors is A BRAND NEW CAR! You get to take home either a goat or More...
Categories:   Science
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Unions. I really hate em.

Friday, 21 November 2008 16:25 by The Lunatic


GM has been in trouble a long time, no doubt about it. It's easy to blame management for their slow change to smaller cars, corporate inefficiency, etc.  But face it: it's the unions that are mostly to blame for GM's downfall.  Or, if you prefer, it's managements fault that they didn't have a backbone - and they let the unions walk all over them.

I have many issues with the whole philosophy of unions. Yes, there have been times when they've been helpful - when working conditions were abysmal, unsafe, the pay was equivalent to slave labor, and there weren't any other options for workers. But for the most part those times are long past.

Let's look at unions from a couple of different angles.

I have absolutely no compassion for any company that mistreats employees, but I don't consider providing only a basic health plan as "mistreating" anyone.  Many of the benefits More...

Categories:   Economics | Social Issues
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Why doesn't McCain just say "I'm Sorry" to Jackson Browne?

Thursday, 20 November 2008 21:08 by The Lunatic


I've done a lot of media licensing in my life.  A lot .... hit songs, video clips, still images (including a picture of Elvis Presley once, that was fun). I'm fairly up to date on licensing laws and procedures, and I have a high regard for artists rights. And I certainly wouldn't dream of using someone's copyrighted material in a national advertisement without their permission. 

So why is John McCain trying to sue Jackson Browne after he used "Running on Empty" without permission?  This is just plain stupid:

Basically, McCain's campaign used Jackson Browne's hit song "Running on Empty" in an ad that targeted Obama's energy plan.  Jackson Browne sued, rightfully so, stating that More...

Categories:   Politics
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Death and Taxes. Ok, just taxes.

Thursday, 20 November 2008 18:22 by The Lunatic


Americans are spoiled.

We want to have a semi-socialist government that provides entitlements and health care, but no one wants higher taxes to pay for it. We want high wages, but then we complain when everyone buys cheap foreign made goods. We're straddled with trillions of dollars of debt, and no one wants to raise taxes to pay for it. We want it all, and we don't want to pay for it.  Spoiled.

Something has to give!

Believe me, I think our taxes are too high as it is and I don't want to pay any more - especially when the money is being spent on an idiotic war that has no end in sight, on a bailout which has very little chance of saving our debt driven economy, and social programs that give freebies to people that really don't contribute much in return. But let's be realistic.

For 150 years, we've gone More...

Categories:   Economics | Politics
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Are there any stable currencies left?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008 14:06 by The Lunatic


There was a report a few weeks ago talking about the inflation in Zimbabwe.  The "Official" rate of inflation is 230 MILLION PERCENT, while some analysts put the number in the billions. The full story is here:

They can't seem to print money fast enough to keep up.  Previously, the largest bill was 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars, and now the new bill is Z$1,000,000, and they're still expecting currency shortages!

I remember when South American countries were all in an economic free-fall back in the 90's.  If you ate at a restaurant in Argentina, you needed to pay for your meal when you ordered, because if you waited until after you finished, the price will have doubled.  And that's with an inflation rate of "only" a few thousand percent.

How in the heck do you keep things "synchronized" from store to store with a 230 million percent inflation rate?  It's ludicrous!

Of course, this leads to the question of More...

Categories:   Economics
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What do you believe?

Saturday, 15 November 2008 13:22 by The Lunatic


Here is the second of my two talks that I gave at the Seattle chapter of the Ethical Culture Society, this one is from November 4, 2004. (See yesterday's post for the first ...)

* * * * *

What do you believe?
David M. H. Workman


People can be very fervent in their beliefs. 

I’m talking about the good old fashioned argument of science versus religion.  By religion, I mean the organizations whose purpose it is to evangelize a monotheistic God.

What do you believe in?  Is there a god?  Is there a controlling “force” in the universe?  Is our existence and our future pre-determined for us?

Our beliefs are based on our own experiences, what our parents and teachers teach us, what we read, whomever we decide is telling us the truth. And what about our sometimes irrational interpretations More...

Categories:   Religion | Science
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The Words and Intentions of a Politically Correct Society

Friday, 14 November 2008 13:39 by The Lunatic


Back in 2004, I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Seattle chapter of The Ethical Culture Society, a non-religeous group that lives their lives by a strict code of ethics rather than religious principals.  Although I was never an official member of the society, my family attended quite a few meetings that year, and I actually gave two different talks - the following is the first one I did on February first, 2004.  I'll post the second one tomorrow.

* * * * *

The Words and Intentions of a Politically Correct society
David M. H. Workman  

When I was growing up, we had two cardinal rules in our house that were mandated by my mother.  The first was no gossiping.  We were not allowed to say anything negative about someone behind their back.  If there was something we didn’t like about someone, we spoke to them about it personally, and in private.

The second wasn’t as much of a rule as a philosophy.  It was my mother’s goal to see the elimination of all prejudices worldwide.  I was raised with the fundamental principle that it doesn’t matter what someone’s social or financial status is, or what their education, race, heritage, sexual orientation, or gender is – every person on this planet deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect at the very least.

My mother was very serious about More...

Categories:   Social Issues
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Lets apply for a job with the Obama administration and see what happens!

Thursday, 13 November 2008 19:06 by The Lunatic


For the last two days, I've seen numerous reports calling for job seekers to submit their resume's on Obama's website

I'm a seasoned manager with great credentials.  I have very few skeletons in my closet, and as an added bonus I am currently living in Washington D.C.  So I've decided to give it a try.  I filled out the "expression of interest" form last night. 

Lest you think I'm doing this as a joke - I'm not.  Although I don't really NEED a job at this point, I would seriously consider the opportunity if I manage to get through the vetting process. I'm curious if they'll even respond to my "expression of interest" (that's such a politically correct way of stating it.  Hmmph.)  An MSNBC news report published today says that administration applicants will go through the most "extensive and invasive" application process ever.  They will review all blogs, More...

Categories:   Politics
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Movie Recomendation: Idiocracy

Wednesday, 12 November 2008 14:13 by The Lunatic


My posting yesterday on global population made me think of one of the best social commentaries to hit the theaters since Muffin ManSmile

Idiocracy is a scathing remark on one of the worst trends of modern times: educated and intelligent people are having less kids and uneducated and lower intelligent people are having more. The movie projects this out 500 years to a society that is .... well, akin to 500 generations of Homer Simpson inbreeding with his second cousin.

Nothing is sacred in this movie - they take on pop culture, pollution, corporate marketing, government incompetancy, and the religious right (which is primarily responsible for humanities lowered IQ in the first place.)  I love it!


Categories:   Social Issues
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I am fanatically "Pro-Life"

Tuesday, 11 November 2008 15:41 by The Lunatic


I am a very staunch "pro-life" advocate, but the biggest threat to life on this planet is the over population of the human species. I just can't buy the argument that humans have some innate right to survival at the expense of all other species.  Yes, our growth rate is slowing, but it's not enough.

There's an old example used to illustrate where humans are on our population trajectory.  You've probably heard this before, but to review: you have a jar with two microbes, and the net growth rate of the microbes is such that the total number of microbes doubles every minute (factoring in both birth and death rates), and the jar is just big enough so that it will fill to the brim with microbes in one day.  So you put the two microbes in the jar at midnight, and the jar is full at midnight the next day. The crux of the example is that at one minute before midnight, the jar is half full.  Two minutes before midnight the jar is a quarter full, and three minutes before midnight the jar is only an eighth full.

Ok, it's not a perfect explanation - humans can not completely "fill up" the world and there are numerous other factors More...

Categories:   Social Issues
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RIP Lehman Brothers

Sunday, 9 November 2008 13:54 by The Lunatic


I guess I'm still in shock at how fast Lehman Brothers went down the drain.  What's most amazing to me is one of their biggest consulting service offerings was risk management.  These guys were supposed to be the BEST in the world - if you wanted some help on how to protect your company against new competition, economic changes, currency fluctuations, or how manage your growth, you would pay Lehman Brothers all sorts of money and they would help you formulate a plan.  So if they were so good, why couldn't they come up with a plan to save THEMSELVES?

Historically, merchant bankers like Lehman primarily acted as deal makers.  They would put together huge financial packages for governments and large multi-national companies, and the commissions they received fueled their growth for 150 years.  But in the early 90's the rules were changes to allow merchant bankers to trade for their own accounts - ever since that change, three major investment banks have failed. Also, commercial banks are limited to a leverage of 13:1 of investments to deposits, but no such limit is imposed on investment banking. I haven't seen an official number, but some reports have stated that Lehman was leveraged well over More...

Categories:   Economics
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How the Economic Crisis is affecting Japan

Friday, 7 November 2008 14:22 by The Lunatic


A friend sent this to me  a few weeks ago - I'm not sure who the original author is ...


Following the problems in the financial sector in the US, uncertainty has now hit Japan.

In the last 7 days the Origami Bank has folded, the Sumo Bank has gone belly up after an “overweight” rating by analysts, and the Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.  Yesterday, it was announced that the Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today’s shares in the Kamikaze Bank were in a sharp nose-dive.

While Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cuts, the Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit but they remain in the black.

Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at the Sushi Bank where it is feared that customers may get a raw deal. More...

Categories:   Economics
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The role that our national debt has played in the financial crisis

Thursday, 6 November 2008 18:02 by The Lunatic


I wrote this article a month ago and submitted it to about 20 publications.  One "top ten" weekly news magazine expressed some interest, but decided to pass.


Get Off The Track – The Train Is Coming!
By David Workman
October 15, 2008

The financial crisis?  Everyone saw it coming.  Many people wrote about it and some even outlined how it would play out with a fair degree of accuracy. You are not alone if you were one of the ones screaming from the rooftop that our economy is in trouble, and our debt is killing us – even if you were saying it before the real estate bubble burst and housing prices were climbing ever higher.

The question is: what did you really do about it?  What can you say that you did to protect yourself – or better yet, what did we do as a country to avoid it?

It’s like we’ve been standing on a train track staring at an oncoming freight train – and we’re too paralyzed with fear to jump off the track!

There’s really only one reason why we are in the middle of this current financial crisis More...

Categories:   Economics
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He's "Bi-Racial", not "African American"

Wednesday, 5 November 2008 22:07 by The Lunatic


It's time for the press to stop bringing up Barack Obama's race whenever his name is mentioned.  It's only been one day, and it's already getting tiring. For one thing, Obama is bi-racial.  His mother was white and his father was African American.

But that doesn't matter.  What matters is whether or not he is the right person for the job.  I don't give a rats ass if he's green, pink, tan, black, or bluish purple. Yes, it is a big deal to be the first obviously bi-racial president - I'm not denying that (reportedly, there have been others, but they were "mostly white").

In any event, the leadup to this election has been in the works for a long time.  At one point, in some city, we must have had the first black mayor. And I'm sure that was big news at the time.  I'm not sure who/when/where it was - but no one bats an eye anymore when a black man (or woman, or Chinese, or Indian) is elected More...

Categories:   Politics | Social Issues
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Counting down the days to the new administration

Wednesday, 5 November 2008 06:42 by The Lunatic


The Bush administration will go down in history as one of the worst - make that the absolute worst  - in U.S. history.

George Bush Senior should whip the president's ass with a ping pong paddle for making such a mess of things.  In public.

In the last 8 years, the U.S. has gone from a country that was mostly admired to being universally hated. We have a government that meddles where it shouldn’t, openly provokes fights with anyone that doesn’t agree with our philosophies, and bullies our friends and enemies alike.  Ok, much of that has been going on since well before Bush became president, but he certainly has brought it to new heights.

McCain is unbelievably antagonistic, even worse than More...

Categories:   Politics
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