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User Journal

Journal Journal: In a nutshell...

It (perhaps) goes without saying that Slashdot contains gems of information & truth and insight. That's what makes us keep coming back, right? That and the occasional witty comment that makes us laugh - and that we all immediately use in emails to friends! Heh.

But occasionally the crowd gets it completely and utterly wrong. And on those days Slashdot seems nothing more than a collection of non-article reading mouth-breathers. I hate those days.

Recently, we had this storm in a teacup about the Australian census. Three things became immediately clear. One, few had followed the link or read the CNN article. Two, even those who had a grasp on the basic facts seemed to have gotten it all bass-ackwards. And three, sometimes the editors of Slashdot seem to really skew the discussion by the way they advertise the stories, even though CmdrTaco put the "funny" spin on it, people took his bait.

I tried in my own way to set things right, as I saw them, but no-one was really interested.

And I do realise how much this looks like sour grapes, but it isn't. I don't post for karma - a quick glance at my info page will tell you that. I really do try to add something to discussion.

Mitigating facts? The amount of really genuinely funny posts about the topic, "They didn't lie on their census forms... *waves hand*" LOL!

User Journal

Journal Journal: So much misinformation about "gambling"!

People, I guess, form opinions on what they see and hear, not on what they don't, so I can understand some of the misinformation out there about betting at Casinos, mostly known correctly as "gambling."

You see, there are two large groups of people interested in spreading misinformation on this topic, which explains a lot of the seeing and hearing and opinion-forming that's going on. Those two groups are:

The Casinos
Who want the public as ignorant as possible about the odds, the legalities, and expert play of their "games". The other group is, oddly enough:

The Gamblers
Who, again, want to believe, and usually want their loved ones to believe, that the "games" can be (easily) beaten, if only you had the right "system".

A recent topic showed this clearly. I'm sure those MIT kids went to Vegas and had a blast. I'm sure, too, that if they played some kind of "basic strategy" they came home about even, in fact just slightly behind. Let's say a class of 30 went. I would bet 10 came out slightly ahead and 10 came out slightly behind. 6 poor shmucks lost their roll, and 4 guys doubled their money. Of course, when you tell the story of the "Maths Boys In Vegas" you spend a lot of time on the 4 (or 14 if you tell the "better" story) guys that made like bandits, and almost no time on the 16 guys who lost a little (or a lot) each to finance them. Get the picture?

There are systems, and I tried to illustrate the very special kind of brain required to actually use one, without much success. There's too many people saying exactly the opposite.

All I can do is repeat myself: I know hundreds of gamblers, and they all have a system. Out of all of them, I know one person who, over a long period of time, has beaten the casino. The maths is simple. He has an extraordinary mind, this casino-beater. And he's nothing like Dustin Hoffman from bloody "Rainman". A character like that would be asked to "Play any game you like sir, but you can't play blackjack here." at any casino in the world in five minutes or less.

Am I saying most gamblers are liars? Yes. If you have a problem with that statement, please click the link and get some help.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Radiation on Mars Missions

It seems like every time there's a story on space, someone posts "The Radiation! The Radiation!"

Not surprisingly, it came up again in this series of posts. Of course, as I try to point out, it's not the mission-stopper that some think it is.

There's so much research out there about this! Even NASA - sensibly conservative and hunting for a "mission" for the ISS ("Seeing what radiation in space does" as if we don't know from 30+ years of space flight) - isn't as strident as some people who should search before they post.

Update: Wow! This came around again, this time with the New York Times publishing a big article on it. Of course, as pointed out immediately everywhere that has a clue, they were wrong too! Check it out!

Update: Like a bad seafood meal, the "radiation" meme came up again, in another /. discussion on Mars suits.

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In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur