Friday, July 16, 2004

Probability and Odds

Suppose you have a 25 percent chance of getting X. How do we convert a probability to odds?

Let p = 25 percent

Odds is: (1-p) to p

Which is (1-0.25) to 0.25

which is 0.75 to 0.25

which is 3 to 1

In other words, a 25 percent probability is the same as 3 to 1 odds.

Now it is important to note whether these are odds in favor or against.

3 to 1 against means that out of 4 turns, 3 will be something you don't want and 1 will be something you do want.

3 to 1 in favor means that out of 4 turns, 3 will be something you do want and 1 will be something you do not want.

Question: If the odds are 9 to 1 against X occuring (sometimes written 9:1) , then what is the probability (percentage) that X will happen?

Answer: 10 percent

Probability and Odds

Suppose you have a 25 percent chance of getting X. How do we convert a probability to odds?

Let p = 25 percent

Odds is: (1-p) to p

Which is (1-0.25) to 0.25

which is 0.75 to 0.25

which is 3 to 1

In other words, a 25 percent probability is the same as 3 to 1 odds.

Now it is important to note whether these are odds in favor or against.

3 to 1 against means that out of 4 turns, 3 will be something you don't want and 1 will be something you do want.

3 to 1 in favor means that out of 4 turns, 3 will be something you do want and 1 will be something you do not want.

Question: If the odds are 9 to 1 against X occuring (sometimes written 9:1) , then what is the probability (percentage) that X will happen?

Answer: 10 percent


Saturday, July 03, 2004

News

Here is a sad article about what is happening to children in Nigeria because of the ignorance and stubborness of some adults.



Nigerian children pay the price of polio vaccine ban as polio outbreak hits


An outbreak of polio has hit children in the Nigerian state of Kano. Kano is one of the muslim states that had boycotted the use of the polio vaccine. Many muslim states in Nigeria banned the polio vaccine because those in charge said the Americans were using the vaccines to make their population infertile. Many of them said the vaccine would also be used to spread AIDS in the region. Despite appeals from neighbouring countries to vaccinate its population, the conspiracy theorists in Nigeria got their way.

Now, as expected, polio is beginning to spread among children in the region. Now the local authorities are appealing for urgent assistance.

The World Health Organisation has sent a team to the area. The team has confirmed that the outbreak is polio.

It was only during the month of May this year that officials in Kano decided to resume vaccinations because the new batch came from Indonesia, a muslim country. Unfortunately, this massive delay is going to be paid for by scores of children, who could end up being crippled for life (as well as dying).

Polio is very rare in the world today. Vaccinations, which are done worldwide, have managed to nearly eradicate the disease. If the ‘wise’ men of those regions of Nigeria had decided to see sense a long time ago, polio would most probably not exist in Nigeria today. Why didn’t they ask for batches from muslim countries a year ago? Why did they wait so long? Everyone, the WHO, their neighbours, even their own population was begging them to see sense.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Interesting Facts

1. Standard time (24 time zones) was fixed in 1883.

2. The days of the week are named after ancient gods or astrological planets.

Sunday -- Sun's day
Monday day -- Moon's day
Tuesday -- Tiw's day
Wednesday -- Woden's day
Thursday -- Thor's day
Friday -- Frigg's day
Saturday -- Saterne's day

3. China (by government order) operates as one time zone, although geographically it should operate as five time zones.

4. An acre is 43,560 square feet.

5. There was no World Series in baseball in 1904.

6. The first team to win the World Series (in 1903) was the Boston Red Sox.

7. A truck in England is called a lorry.

8. In the US a person stands in a line; in England a person stands in a queue.

9. If you talk to a person you are doing the talking and the other person is listening. if you talk with a person both you and the other person are talking.

10. Toward/Towards. Toward is the word used in the US and towards is the word used in England.

Article

Article by Thomas Sowell.



July 2, 2004

Ever wonder why some people hate America so?

This is not a new phenomenon nor one confined to foreigners. More than 20 years ago, Eric Hoffer said: "Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America."

Note that it is not the downtrodden masses but the pampered Ph.D.s who most vent their spleen at the country that protects and indulges them. When a friend who teaches at Harvard put an American flag sticker on his car, his astonished colleagues demanded to know: "What is that?!"

An American flag on a car or a home would have brought a similar outcry of amazement and disgust at Berkeley -- and on elite campuses in between, all across the country.

Nor is such a posture confined to academia. Movie-maker Michael Moore is going around the world saying that the United States is "a crappy country" and its people "stupid" -- while his movie "Fahrenheit 911" is being praised to the skies in the press and among the intelligentsia, as it puts its anti-American message on the screen.

What is there about America that sets off such venom -- among Americans, of all people? One answer might be to look at the kinds of countries praised, defended, or "understood" by the intelligentsia.

For many years, the Soviet Union was such a country. After too many bitter facts about the Soviet Union came to light over the years to permit its rosy image to continue, much of the intelligentsia simply shifted their allegiance or sympathies to other collectivist countries, such as China, Cuba, or Vietnam in the Communist bloc or India, Tanzania and other collectivist regimes outside it.

It did not make a dent on intellectuals that people were fleeing the countries they praised, often at the risk of their lives, to try to reach the countries they were condemning -- especially the United States of America.

What is wrong with America, in the eyes of the intelligentsia? The same things that are right with America in the eyes of others.

If one word rings out, and echoes around the world, when America is mentioned, that word is Freedom. But what does freedom mean?

It means that hundreds of millions of ordinary human beings live their lives as they see fit -- regardless of what their betters think. That is fine, unless you see yourself as one of their betters, as so many intellectuals do.

The more the American vision of individual freedom prevails, the more the vision of the anointed fails. The more ordinary people spend the money they have earned for whatever they want, the less is available to the government as taxes to spend for "the common good" as Hillary Clinton recently put it.

The more people who raise their own children by their own values, the less is there a place for the collectivist notion that "it takes a village to raise a child," as Hillary has said elsewhere. Too many of our schools are convinced that they are that village.

Cars and guns are both instruments and symbols of personal independence -- and both are targets of hostility and even hatred by those who are convinced that they can run other people's lives better than those people can run their own lives. All sorts of claims are made against cars and guns, without the slightest interest in checking those claims against readily available facts.

When America frees ordinary people from the domination of their betters, and prevents them for being used as guinea pigs for the vision of the anointed, the more America insults the very presumptions that enable the anointed to think of themselves as special, as one-up on the rest of us.

Countries that impose a collectivist vision from the top down will be forgiven many atrocities, while a country like the United States that lets individuals go their own way will not even be forgiven its successes, much less its shortcomings.

As we celebrate both our country's independence and our individual independence on the Fourth of July, we should never forget that this independence is galling to those who want us to be dependent on them.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Article

Article by Thomas Sowell.

When you have seen scenes of poverty and squalor in many Third World countries, either in person or in pictures, have you ever wondered why we in America have been spared such a fate?

When you have learned of the bitter oppressions that so many people have suffered under, in despotic countries around the world, have you ever wondered why Americans have been spared?

Have scenes of government-sponsored carnage and lethal mob violence in countries like Rwanda or in the Balkans ever made you wonder why such horrifying scenes are not found on the streets of America?

Nothing is easier than to take for granted what we are used to, and to imagine that it is more or less natural, so that it requires no explanation. Instead, many Americans demand explanations of why things are not even better and express indignation that they are not.

Some people think the issue is whether the glass is half empty or half full. More fundamentally, the question is whether the glass started out empty or started out full.

Those who are constantly looking for the "root causes" of poverty, of crime, and of other national and international problems act as if prosperity and law-abiding behavior were so natural that it is their absence that has to be explained. But a casual glance around the world today, or back through history, would dispel any notion that good things just happen naturally, much less inevitably.

The United States of America is the exception, not the rule. Our national birthday on the Fourth of July is an appropriate time to ask what has made American society one to which people are fleeing from other societies around the world.

Once we realize that America is an exception, we might even have a sense of gratitude for having been born here, even if gratitude has become un-cool in many quarters. At the very least, we might develop some concern for seeing that whatever has made this country better off is not lost or discarded.

Those among us who are constantly rhapsodizing about "change" in vague and general terms seem to have no fear that a blank check for change can be a huge risk in a world where so many other countries that are different are also far worse off.

Chirping about "change" may produce a giddy sense of excitement or of personal exaltation but, as usual, the devil is in the details. Even despotic countries that have embraced sweeping changes have often found that these were changes for the worse.

The czars in Russia, the shah of Iran, the Batista regime in Cuba, were all despotic. But they look like sweethearts compared to the regimes that followed. For example, the czars never executed as many people in half a century as Stalin did in one day.

Even the best countries must make changes and the United States has made many economic, social, and political changes for the better. But that is wholly different from making "change" a mantra.

To be for or against "change" in general is childish. Everything depends on the specifics. To be for generic "change" is to say that what we have is so bad that any change is likely to be for the better.

Such a pose may make some people feel superior to others who find much that is worth preserving in our values, traditions and institutions. The status quo is never sacrosanct but its very existence proves that it is viable, as seductive theoretical alternatives may not turn out to be.

Most Americans take our values, traditions and institutions so much for granted that they find it hard to realize how much all these things are under constant attack in our schools, our colleges, and in much of the press, the movies and literature.

There is a culture war going on within the United States -- and in fact, within Western civilization as a whole -- which may ultimately have as much to do with our survival, or failure to survive, as the war on terrorism.

There are all sorts of financial, ideological, and psychic rewards for undermining American society and its values. Unless some of us realize the existence of this culture war, and the high stakes in it, we can lose what cost those Americans before us so much to win and preserve.