On "Wisely Using Your Advantage"

Enough politics: let’s talk about probability. The Quantum Pontiff has a delightful piece up about “Gambler’s ruin”:

Gambler’s ruin is one of my favorite basic probability exercises… Suppose you have access to a game in which you have a slight advantage in winning… [W]hat is your probability of ruin, given a starting bankroll of D dollars, an advantage of p, and a target of T dollars?

The math isn’t too hard, but the results are surprising. Check it out.

"Felon-presumptive Governor Palin"

Tom at The Inverse Square Blog rips into Palin. Money quote:

I said that Miss Palin is being used.  The passive voice is a deceiver.  Sarah Palin is using her daughter as cynically as I have ever witnessed anyone turn their children to their own ends.  John McCain is taking advantage as best he can of a pregnant teenager to advance his ambition.  The McCain campaign and the leaders of the Republican Party are asking — demanding, as far as anyone can tell — that Bristol Palin suspend whatever hope for privacy she may have in order to provide her mother with the cover she needs.

I do not have words to describe how I feel about women and men that would so put themselves and their ambitions, their lust for power before that of a young woman — a girl — who had done nothing, not one thing, to place herself in the way of such a train wreck.

Here’s James Fallows’ assessment of this aspect of the Palin speech:

Nothing off limits. Barack Obama has used his family as a prop from time to time — most recently, bringing the charming girls onto the stage at the end of his convention speech. That’s life in politics; everybody does it to some degree.Very few politicians do it as all-out as Sarah Palin just did, from citing the disabilities of her youngest child as part of her resume to including the shotgun groom of her elder daughter. I can’t recall any spectacle comparable to Baby Trig being passed from Cindy McCain, to Trig’s 7-year-old sister, to Palin herself when she ended the speech. Her husband looks charming, I have to say. From this point on it will be hard for her to declare anything about her personal or famiy life out-of-bounds.

"It's NOT The Economy, Stupid!"

For those of you who labour under the delusion that the US Presidential election might be about national security, or “The Economy, stupid”, or budget deficits, or Social Security, or stuff like that, let John McCain’s main man put you straight.

Rick Davis, campaign manager for John McCain’s presidential bid, insisted that the presidential race will be decided more over personalities than issues during an interview with Post editors this morning.

“This election is not about issues,” said Davis. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

Got that?
(From the Washington Post.)

Isn't it too soon for an October surprise?

The kind of headline I’d rather not see:

Dutch withdraw spy from Iran because of “impending US attack”

The Dutch intelligence service has pulled an agent out of an "ultra-secret operation" spying on Iran's military industry because spymasters in Netherlands believe a United States air attack was imminent.