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Comment: Re:But... (Score 4, Insightful) 251

Why, are you illiterate or something?

Ad hominem modded "insightful"? Seriously, the mods are feeding the trolls now? Alas, since this is modded up, I'll risk a response....

No, seriously -- if you have to go look up stuff often enough for that to be a big deal, then (a) the book is too hard for you

Some people like to challenge themselves once in a while. By your logic, we should never move beyond our elementary school readers.

and (b) you're missing the point of reading. You'd lose sense of how the story flows if you keep starting and stopping like that.

Gee, there's only one possible "point of reading"? And here I thought that one of the primary "points of reading" was to understand what the author was saying... which you can't very well do if you don't understand the words.

You're also talking about "stories" -- what about non-fiction? Or what about classic literature, which may use language a bit differently?

In all seriousness, one of the primary reasons why the written word was invented was so it could preserve information... whether that be stories or non-fiction or whatever. Why? So that other people can learn about it. The idea that reading only functions as entertainment is a modern phenomenon.

And if you're using reading to learn things, you should be prepared to encounter new ideas, which often may involve new words. I have taught graduate-level courses at universities, and one of the things I strongly encourage students to do is look up recurring words that they don't know. If you don't do that, you won't understand the text. And part of the learning process is often having a challenging reading that allows you to expand your ideas, which usually involves some new vocabulary at the same time.

When you run across the occasional unfamiliar word, it provides a better experience just to figure it out from context and move on.

Yes, that's a great exercise, and if you're in the middle of a fast-paced novel, it's probably a reasonable idea. But if you're actually trying to understand what an author is saying, and there's this word popping up a dozen times that you don't know, simply guessing what it means is missing an opportunity to learn something.

And recurring words are great for that kind of exercise, because it provides periodic reinforcement, which is one of the keys to learning natural language and recalling new things. Most authors -- even those who write "stories" and fiction -- tend to have "pet words" that aren't part of the standard core vocabulary everyone uses. When you see such a word and look it up, each time the author uses it again you'll reinforce that word. Suddenly, by the end of the book, you'll have expanded your vocabulary by a dozen or a few dozen words. (And you're more likely to remember the meaning than if you had just memorized the word for a vocab test or something -- seeing practical usage will aid recall.)

How else does one ever get to read books that are "too hard for you," as you put it? Or should we just ignore such books? By this logic, unless you were born with a giant vocabulary or hang around with people who use big words all the time, you're obviously not destined to read such weighty tomes....

Comment: Re:Theoretical scientists (Score 1) 81

You mean... it's a theory that they are scientists?

No, this paper was obviously automatically generated by a random computer algorithm. Thus, the authors are purely "theoretical."

(In all seriousness, I think this is TFS's grammatically ambiguous attempt to point out that the authors had a theoretical model that predicted limits on city expansion, which they then attempted to project onto empirical data. That is, it was NOT a study where they simply measured a bunch of cities and tried to derive an empirical fit without prior assumptions.)

Comment: Re:"Mathematical Rules" (Score 1) 81

The weird part of TFA is how exact their numbers are.

"about 83 percent"

The actual article is available for free.

Basically, the "about 83 percent" thing comes from their (not-so-detailed) theoretical model that predicts an exponent of 5/6.

I suspect that a LOT of averaging went on there. And more than a little bit of "toss out the 'data scatter'". Which gives them the "mathematical rule".

Well, as mentioned, the exponent comes from a theoretical model, so it didn't come from averaging empirical data but rather an a priori model. You can judge the amount data fit going on in their scatterplots on page 8.

You can also see from there and various tables that the actual exponent varies quite a bit. (Even their model says it should be somewhere between 2/3 and 5/6, which is already a big range.)

In any case, I think they found evidence to satisfy the basic common-sense observation that city area should grow somewhat slower than population (though not ridiculously slower). I say "common sense," because people want to maintain proximity to stuff in the city center -- and also the fact that a not insignificant part of cities is taken up by places that aren't residences, which presumably grow "busier" rather than immediately larger proportional to the population. Also, that "busy-ness" gives motivation to figure our architectural and infrastructure ways to make space more efficient -- in small cities, there's little need or money/resources to worry about such things.

Comment: Re:Does not work (Score 1) 256

by AthanasiusKircher (#49107729) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?

The only thing you can do is explain to them that porn is not real. Anybody halfway smart does discover that on their first actual sexual contact anyways.

On average, somewhere around 50% of people are LESS than "halfway smart." They might benefit from some more detailed guidance. Other types of human activity usually have fantasy-like depictions on TV or movies or whatever, but they also have more realistic stuff. Porn is highly skewed toward the unrealistic, and given the taboo that many people have about talking about such intimate subjects, it can be hard to realize for someone inexperienced just how unrealistic it is. Saying, "it's not real" is helpful, but unless you have the kind of relationship with your kid where you talk about the details of sex acts (which most parents, frankly, don't -- and even if they wanted to, their kids wouldn't want to listen), then... well, the only input and modeling of sex is potentially unrepresentative.

In addition, I do not buy it. There are now very strong indicators that neither violence on TV nor in games cause people to be more violent. I see zero reason that this should change when sex is put into the mix. I rather thing that this is again prohibitionist propaganda, that cannot hold water when examined closely.

Perhaps you're correct. I myself have read some of the studies, and I'm rather doubtful that exposure to porn causes more crime or sexual assault or whatever.

However, that doesn't mean that parents shouldn't also be proactive about making clear exactly how skewed porn often is. Just because it doesn't make you into a misogynist rapist doesn't mean that it can't also make it even more difficult to navigate your first intimate relationships when you have completely irrational expectations.

And while a link to crime may or may not be real, you have to admit that "hitting the pleasure button" frequently when exposed to certain kinds of stimulus will reinforce that stimulus as something that causes pleasure. This is a well-known psychological phenomenon, no matter what you're talking about. If you spend your teenage years fantasizing about scenarios that are incredibly rare in the real world, I can certainly believe at least SOME kids will later have issues experiencing solid interactions or attaining a satisfying relationship when they can't find that experience in the real world.

Comment: Re:Does not work (Score 1) 256

by AthanasiusKircher (#49107627) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?

You seem to have a personality disorder form the delusional and paranoid spectrum.

Ad hominem, much?

Better get help before you ruin other people's (like your children's) lives.

Yeah, gee, I mean, advocating a sort of BALANCED approach to parenting -- rather than the extremes usually displayed here (i.e., either you lockdown everything so much your kids basically have no choice to rebel, or -- like you -- you advocate total freedom for kids without any recognition that there could be dangers in the world or that they may not be ready to deal with certain things without supervision).

Yeah, sorry -- I actually chose to try and lay out a middle ground... which allows for different types of kids and personalities. Some kids may be able to trust in a parent and come ask for help before trouble starts on the internet. Some might not, even if you think you have an "open" relationship with them and try to foster one.

Do you actually have kids? Even if you do, and your method worked for you, it may NOT work for ALL kids. Unlike you, I try not to judge people and their approaches, as long as they aren't actively harming their kids.

Nothing what you said is reasonable in the real world.

Yep -- that whole thing about putting up a fence so a 2-year-old can't wander into the street. Completely unreasonable in the real world. Survival of the fittest, after all! If the kid's too stupid to listen to commands or come ask for help before wandering into a dangerous area... oh well!....

Comment: Re:Does not work (Score 1) 256

by AthanasiusKircher (#49105385) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?

The risk of "scammers" and "cyberbullies" are easily mitigated by explaining to children how these things work. Of course a few will still fall for it, but scammers are no real risk as children have limited funds, and everybody needs to learn how to deal with bullies anyways.

Yeah, 'cause no adults ever fall for internet scams. Ever.

I mean, good grief -- we can't expect adults to avoid scammers, so you think simple education is going to be effective for kids with much less real-world experience?

And as for "bullies," well this is part of a larger concern that impersonal interactions on the internet can easily become very personal, particularly to impressionable young people. This isn't just bullying -- it's things like sexual predators "grooming" kids and convincing them to do everything from sending naked pics to inappropriate stuff over webcam to real-life meet-ups that could turn dangerous.

Yes, these things are real. Not my own kids, but kids of other people in my family have been approached by weirdos on the internet and through social media... MULTIPLE TIMES. Kids are much more likely to be able to encounter such bad interactions over the internet than they are likely to be kidnapped and molested by a stranger in real life (an extremely rare event).

I'm not trying to drive hysteria here -- but such things ARE out there on the internet, and the possibility of connections with all sorts of people makes these things easier to encounter than in real life.

You're right that the first defense is simply talking to your kids and educating them. And it's more likely to be effective than just about anything else. (Kidnappings by strangers are now at a historical low, probably partly due to education -- kids know to be cautious around strangers, and parents are too... though this has led to a kind of hysteria now that's clearly unhealthy too.) But kids may not be taught to be as cautious on the internet.

And in most cases, monitoring if not blocking is going to be really important. There ARE real dangers to kids on the internet. They may not be incredibly common, but kids are more likely to be taken in or manipulated than adults -- and adults themselves already have trouble figuring out reality on the internet.

On the other side, the dangers to kids on the Internet are vastly overblown. For example, there still is not one shred of evidence that porn is actually dangerous to children. The only reason children are "protected" from it (which does not work and has never worked) is that various religions want this.

I absolutely agree with you that stupid prudish religions who are afraid of naked bodies and sex have warped many people's perceptions of "normal" in this area.

Is porn "dangerous" to kids? Probably not likely to cause immediate harm, if that's what you mean.

On the other hand, while I completely agree that seeing nude bodies or typical sex acts is unlikely to cause the gross psychological damage that many people imagine -- that doesn't mean that I think ALL conceivable porn on the internet is "safe" for kids.

The thing about porn isn't just the worries about religious folks exposing nudity or whatever, like it mostly was 30 years ago with nudie magazines or whatever. Now you can inadvertently happen upon just about any kind of sex act imaginable -- and not just in still photos either. Videos model possible interactions in sexual situations, and most pornography makes it clear that a young man should expect almost any woman (from the cheerleader to the shy girl to the "hot mom" next door) to be ready to service him with a variety of sex acts in any orifice, perhaps even along with his buddies.

Is this "dangerous" for a kid to see? I don't know. But it certainly creates unrealistic expectations for sexual relationships and acts. AND, perhaps more worryingly, it allows any minor strange fetish to be reinforced with a simple internet search once a kid realizes that is out there. That includes plenty of scenarios that involve everything from a woman who is often "on the fence" and pushed into sex to scenarios that clearly start out as what would often be defined as rape, non-consensual incest, etc., which in porn almost always turns into a positive experience for everyone (including the woman).

It's not the nudity and the sex that religious groups take exception to that should worrying. But that doesn't mean that there aren't valid concerns that kids could become engrossed in fetishes that are anything from unreasonable to harmful or potentially criminal... and once they get titillated by something like that, the internet often allows instant reinforcement through thousands of similar porn scenarios.

That's a far cry from taking a look at dad's Playboy or Penthouse or whatever.

Just make sure your children trust you and come to you for advice if they have a problem. Using such tools may have a negative effect there, as mistrust breeds mistrust.

That works in an ideal world. Most kids go through periods where they don't completely trust their parents, and they may be particularly afraid to come talk to parents about things like weird sex requests over the internet or something very personal like that.

You can't BLOCK everything out, but blocking things for younger kids may be appropriate, and for older kids low-key monitoring can help to ensure safety, while not interfering too much.

Kids are impressionable. They need guidance. Sometimes it helps to guide their exposure. You can talk to them, and you should. You can warn them of dangers. But sometimes you might want to put up a fence to make sure your 2-year-old doesn't run out of your yard and into the street. That's a reasonable precaution for a kid who can't always understand or consistently follow instructions or warnings.

Given that real bad things do exist on the internet, perhaps similar "fences" can be used at times to guide kids in the right direction or help them avoid "being hit by a car," despite their and your best efforts to have conversations. Figuring out and monitoring age-appropriate interactions is part of being a good parent.

Comment: Re:its all about the $$$ (Score 1) 93

So tell me...if the truck driver had not been very skilled (or the right lane not empty) and had instead pancaked this idiot like he richly deserved, would you hold the truck driver responsible? After all, you said that ANY rear-end collision is the fault of the vehicle behind, right?

Good grief -- what was the point of this rant? To teach an exercise in formal logic?? Obviously one can come up with exceptions to almost any practical real-world ruie or statement. Obviously most real-world statements like GP's come with a bunch of implicit assumptions -- like, for example, that the rear-end collision didn't result from a car being dropped suddenly in front of another car from a helicopter, or from a car magically appearing suddenly out of quantum foam... or, as in your common example, as a result of clearly illegal driving behavior by the person in front, namely an unsafe lane change.

Moreover, in your lovely example of road etiquette, I dare say after the moron who did the unsafe lane change, the next person I personally would hold responsible is not the truck driver, but YOU.

I was driving on a 4 lane road in the left hand lane in fairly busy traffic going slightly but not grossly faster than the speed limit. Some absolute idiot was tailgating me because he seemed to think I was in his way--the extreme kind of tailgating that's extremely dangerous. I could not move over if I wanted to on account of a large flatbed truck to my right, and although I was passing the truck steadily, doing so rapidly would mean exceeding the speed limit to a great degree which I was unwilling to do. So I slowed down to the speed limit, which just enraged the idiot behind me. The truck driver noticed this little drama and slowed down too. Nothing like road justice I suppose.

In other words, you were going along happily driving faster than the speed limit in a passing lane, and when someone expresses a desire to pass as well, you SLOW DOWN just to prove a point ("road justice")?? Sorry, but that's completely unacceptable behavior. You saw somebody acting like a jerk. Rather than just getting out of his way, you decided you'd try to "teach him a lesson" while operating a machine that could easily become a high-velocity projectile weighing over a ton and (as you admit) no room for maneuvering. Therefore, you endangered the lives of all of you and potentially everyone around you... FOR WHAT?

That's the kind of crap that gets people killed. Yes, the guy should not have been tailgating you. But you went and deliberately made the situation worse (and if you are correct about the truck driver, so did he). As far as I'm concerned, all three of you deserve to have your licenses suspended until you can stop "playing games" during dangerous high-speed situations... and perhaps be sentenced to a few months of traffic school.

Comment: Re:she will be able to use her mom's smartphone (Score 2) 156

by AthanasiusKircher (#49065653) Attached to: Bill Gates On Educating the World

"they" should be officially added to the English language as a suitable replacement for "he" and "she" so people can stop using these words to push stereotypes or agendas.

Instead of "added," how about restored, or perhaps simply "re-legitimized"?

More details at the link, but " singular they" has been in common English usage since the 14th century, and until the mid-1800s it was standard even among famous authors and educated folks.

Then, as with many supposed grammatical bugaboos, the Latin wackos got ahold of things and tried to claim that English should be more like some idealized version of Latin (which itself was largely a constructed artificially policed version of Latin espoused by Cicero et al.). So blame the grammar wackos of the late 1800s for imposing an artificial rule on English usage.

Usually when you find some arbitrary grammatical rule, it's not that we need to "officially allow" other uses into English... Often we just need to stop grammar wackos from trying to enforce supposed "rules" that were simply made up by some up-tight dude in the late 1800s who was bored and decided to write a grammar book to impose all of his (yes, almost always "his"!) artificial restrictions on the world.

Comment: Re:Yeah, right (Score 2) 267

by AthanasiusKircher (#49060419) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

Third, you can spend hours fact checking the claim in order to eventually, finally, reassure yourself that yes, they are lying sacks of shit and no part of what they said was representative of the truth.

How often do you actually take the third option? How often can you, really? That's like asking someone how many EULAs they read.

All the time, actually.

Before the internet was so comprehensive, not very much, I'll admit. But now I can search for information on just about anything, and within a minute (not "hours"), I can be reading professional journal articles on the topic.

If I see a post I know is right (or at least includes a bunch of stuff I know is right already), I generally skim it or pass by. If I see a post that I know is wrong, I may reply with what I know, or I may just ignore it depending on how much I care.

But if I see a post making assertions that seem more speculative or which make strong claims that contradict what I thought I knew, I want to know the truth. So, I often go a-searching. Generally within a couple minutes, I can either locate a reputable source that seems to verify it, or a reputable source that shows the poster was an idiot -- or, I often find both the spurious claims the poster was making along with someone else who has better credentials or better data debunking it.

That's a primary way I learn new stuff in the internet age. You should try it sometime. Sure, I don't fact-check comments on things I don't care about at all, because I don't often read comments or stories I don't care about (or only briefly skim comments looking for anything interesting).

Anyhow, that's about the main reason I read comments -- I want someone to tell me something new. And if it seems legitimately new, I generally want to know more about it -- not just accept it as truth and go around telling people, "Yeah, I heard a guy on the internet talking about X, and you won't believe what he said! Let me tell you about it..."

That's useless and a waste of everyone's time. My default assumption is skepticism. If you're going to believe any useless crap on the internet without checking it yourself, then I have a bridge to sell you. What I often like about discussion here on Slashdot is that people don't have a lot of patience for that kind of nonsense. Yes, it gets modded up sometimes, but then someone else frequently comes along who does know something and can provide better citations. It's not a perfect system, but it works better than most.

Comment: Re:The default state: Skeptical (Score 1) 267

by AthanasiusKircher (#49060293) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

This may just be my own unqualified opinion on the subject but it seems like nothing turns people in to a pack of complete idiots faster than anonymity.

Agreed -- which is the primary case for pseudonymity.

I agree that there is plenty of value in real names on the internet when someone is actually going to offer something in their official professional capacity or area of expertise. When some dude starts spouting medical advice, and you can found out that he's using his real name AND is a doctor, maybe that can change your judgment.

But maybe that doctor also wants to offer other opinions on topics related to medical science, but maybe the issues are more controversial or perhaps he wants to say some things that he's not ready to stake his reputation on.

If he posts anonymously, you can't judge his opinion better than any other wacko on the internet.

But if he has a durable pseudonym, people can go back and look at previous posts. If he has a record of saying reliable things about medical topics, maybe he does know something.

Or, if he wants to go posting on a chef site, he can adopt a different pseudonym, and again people can judge his reputation based on previous contributions. Regardless of whether he has "credentials," he can develop an online reputation for saying things that other actual experts agree with.

We do this all the time in real life -- we speak differently to the boss compared to our coworkers, to the old ladies at church compared to the guys at the bar, to our kids compared to a partner in the bedroom. If all of those are connected and mushed together into one "real-life" identity, it makes it nearly impossible to have the multitude of different types of interactions we do in the real world. This is one of the major problems with social networks like Facebook, which try to insist that you be a real person and that you are the same person to all people. (Zuckerberg is on record as saying that people who want to have different online identities must be inherently dishonest.)

But that's just not like things are in the real world. In the real world, you build up your reputation at the bar based on previous behavior, and a pseudonym online can approximate something like that.

Comment: Re:Don't add Internet to everything. (Score 1) 267

by AthanasiusKircher (#49059367) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

Just talk to people and you will se the same thing. Be it in a meeting, in a pub or wherever.

That's somewhat true. Although, I know I "cheated" here by reading TFA, but the summary is actually quite bad in this case. For example, the first half of TFA talks a lot about sexism issues in commenting and other things.

So it happens in the real world. It has happend since ages. Why would it surprise anybody that it happens on the Internet?

Well, as TFA points out, one thing that is different about the internet is that the more disconnected (and often anonymous) nature of internet commenting tends to lead people to have fewer inhibitions when commenting -- probably more so than even in a pub (to take your example) for many people.

It's not exactly a new observation, but it is something that potentially makes this interaction a little different. If people assume that commenters are authoritative and "like them" on the internet, then jerks and trolls who post nasty things -- like, say, racist comments on a story -- might gain a wider audience, who then feel justified in their own latent racism.

We can see these dynamics in action, for example in scandals in the past few years where the news has drawn attention to huge numbers of racist comments or tweets that might follow a somewhat inocuous event. (I recall a Hispanic kid singing the national anthem dressed in traditional Mexican clothing at a major national sports event bringing out a flurry of racist comments, for example -- even though the kid was born in the U.S., and I believe his father was in the U.S. military or a veteran or something.)

As I said, TFA focuses on sexism a bit rather than racism, but it's a similar issue. We all know that people are more likely to be jerks on the internet, particularly if they think they are relatively anonymous. However, if other people still read these jerks' comments as authoritative and "like them," it may reinforce opinions and ideas that are actually less mainstream or which would be kept out of normal "civil" discourse.

On the other hand, one might argue that such revelations also often show opinions that are "not poticially correct" but people nevertheless hold -- so such extreme comments may also show a little more about what some people "really think" but normally wouldn't say. Whether or not that balances the trolls and flamers is another question -- but the point is that the internet does actually change these interactions in interesting ways, and TFA talks about some of them.

Comment: Re:I blame the FDA (Score 1) 365

by AthanasiusKircher (#49057547) Attached to: Smoking Is Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought

As a result, it's expensive as bloody hell to society, leading to a *deficit* in high-quality medical care socialist countries.

I agree with most of what you said, however this simply is not true. When you take a one-year snapshot and look at smokers -- yes, they cost more on average.

But if you look at lifetime total expense, smokers cost less because they die significantly earlier. Yes, a year or two of treatments for lung cancer can be expensive, but then many smokers die. Meanwhile, the healthy runner who needs a number of joint replacements, has a few random cancers in his 70s, and then spends the last 15 years in assisted care due to dementia can cost many times more.

Bottom line -- smokers may LOOK like a net deficit in the annual snapshot. But if you stopped ALL smoking today (somehow), you'd save money for a few years, and then 10-20 years down the road, all your socialist health costs would skyrocket... because the darn people didn't die.

It's not a nice way to think about the argument, and most researchers stay away from this argument, because it seems to run counter to the anti-smoking campaigns most governments like these days. But there are plenty of studies out there which look at total life expenses and how smokers are cheaper. Spend some time looking, and you'll find them.

Comment: Re:just ban it (Score 1) 365

by AthanasiusKircher (#49057483) Attached to: Smoking Is Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought

The question is how many years of useless sucking on social security.

Why didn't you say you were a willfully ignorant sociopath to start with? Those people using the benefits they paid for are still buying cars, computers, and day-to-day goods. You know....putting money into the economy while no longer competing with younger workers for jobs.

Umm, no. Your logic doesn't make sense. I'm not a "sociopath" (or at least I don't think so), and I'm all in favor of valuing elderly people and their social contributions, but a NET monetary one is generally NOT one of them.

It's not like all of their assets magically disappear if they die at 60 or 65 or 70 or whatever. No -- that money, which was produced through ADDED value to society through working is passed on to others when they die -- either to specific heirs or to taxes toward society's benefit in general.

And guess what -- OTHER people will then use that money, either directly in spending or investments or whatever. You don't need to prop up an 85-year-old to allow him to click on Amazon -- he can die, pass on the money to grandkids, and they can spend it just as easily.

So, what really matters is when an older person stops making a net positive contribution, which is generally around retirement. Sure, older people do often continue to do some stuff, like providing some help with childcare for grandkids or whatever, and some continue to do a lot of stuff in retirement -- but the majority stop actually generating net positive productivity at that point.

I'm NOT at all saying that they should "go ahead and die" or whatever. There are many reasons to value them as family members and other resources, but the simple fact is that most people past retirement cease to add net MONETARY value to society. Thus, from an economic standpoint, they are draining resources.

And that's why those who die young (whether from smoking, obesity, disease, whatever) are generally -- purely from an ECONOMIC balance sheet -- less of a drain on society than those who live into old age. Seriously -- there are a LOT of studies out there that show this, if you care to look. It's a little morbid, but it's the truth.

Comment: Re:I'll take the wine instead (Score 1) 480

by AthanasiusKircher (#49037013) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

You're fortunate you don't have whatever it is that gives people a thrill from gambling. For those people, the worst thing that could happen is to win the first time. It ruins lives. I've seen it.

Yeah, I know it ruins lives. And I WAS excited by the win. I think I played another few dollars until the logic set in and I thought about the odds rationally and realized I was incredibly lucky to end up that far ahead so quickly... So I stopped. It's not that there wasn't a thrill. It's not that I have never fantasized about what it would be like to win the lottery either. But I also analyze it rationally, and for me, that rational analysis wins out.

Comment: Re:I'll take the wine instead (Score 1) 480

by AthanasiusKircher (#49034831) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

I still maintain that by not buying a ticket my odds of winning are not significantly reduced.

Precisely true. I've won $175 in lottery money from scratch tickets, but I've never bought one.

Instead, some of my relatives have taken to giving a few of these as gifts at Christmas. I think it's ridiculous, but whatever. So, over the past few years, I've won something like 5 or 6 tickets for a total of $175, including one ticket that got me $50 and another that got me $100.

No one else in the family has ever won more than $20-25 on a single ticket, despite some of them buying scratch tickets on a regular basis.

So yeah, I'd say your statement is definitely true. I've never bought a ticket, and I've had bigger winnings than the people I know who buy them regularly. I don't think I'm "lucky" (whatever that means, though this past year these people bought me EXTRA tickets because they're convinced I am)... it's just random chance.

Of course, I'm also the guy who only once gambled in a casino, and it was when my Dad took me to one and gave me $20 "to get started." I went to a slot machine, after spending about $5, I hit $75. I cashed out, paid my Dad back his $20 and kept the remainder. Never played again... have no desire to.

I guess the moral of my story is -- if possible, gamble with other people's money. It's been "lucky" for me, anyway. :)

(P.S. I'm not trying to smug here. I have no issue with people who have enough money gambling for entertainment. People spend stupid amounts of money on all sorts of stuff for "entertainment," whether it's hundreds of dollars on tickets to a sporting event, a concert, an opera, whatever. Whatever floats your boat. I just personally don't find the entertainment value of tickets that interesting.)

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe