Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Banned books

Isn't it great? Almost any book we think of as a great book had been banned by someone, sometime.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

How important is this news item to me?

What the "news" chose to obsess about is both unhealthy for you, and largely waste of your time. When you buy cigarettes, you are warned about lung cancer, and when you buy a cereal, the seller is obliged by law to inform you about its caloric and (non)nutritional content. So I would like every news item,  before you suffering any further Trumpazing of your gentle neuronal cells, to have a little number in the lower right corner:

the SBL (Struck By Lightning) number:
in 2013 twenty three people were killed by lighting in US, out of 316.5 million. So your likelihood of being killed by lightning is 7.2/10^6 %, or
                               SBL = 0.0000072 percent per year

What does this number mean? Here are some of your primordial fears:

= If you are a parent, about 100 children are abducted by strangers every year, so likelihood of that happening to you is 4 SBL.
= The likelihood that a child is killed by mother’s male partner is 1.5 SBL
= The likelihood that a child is killed by mother is 20 SBL
= The likelihood that a child under 12 commits suicide this year is 120 SBL
= The likelihood that your child is a Harvard undergraduate this year is 460 SBL
= The likelihood of an American citizen being killed by ISIL is 0.3 SBL.
= The likelihood of a US resident being killed by furniture is 1 SBL.
= The likelihood of a US resident being killed by a mass shooter is 1 to 10 SBL.
= The likelihood of a white male being killed by a stranger black male is 25 SBL.
= The likelihood of a being killed while bicycling is 30 SBL.

So, what are the numbers worth paying attention to?

= the likelihood of a being killed while driving is 1,400 SBL. = the likelihood that you will die from a hospital infection is 3,250 SBL
= the likelihood of an American age 20 to 25 firearm suicide is 4,000 SBL
= the likelihood of an American dying age 20 to 25 is 60,000 SBL
= the likelihood that your identity is stolen is 96,000 SBL
= the likelihood that your child's soc security number is stolen is 140,000 SBL
= the likelihood that you are dead is 115,000 SBL
= the likelihood that you are lesbian, gay, or bisexual is 350,00 SBL
= the likelihood of an American citizen being religious is 10,500,000 SBL

Basically, you are most likely to be victimized by your bank, and have 50% chance that the stranger you are talking to believes in Rapture. Terrorism and people of other hues are the least of your worries. Hundred thousand times less likely.

Economist has some numbers here.

So, what are your most pressing risks? You (and your children!) have almost 10% chance of identity theft, thanks to big corporations and government who mishandle your "private" data - this podcast is 50min, but well worth listening to:
Diane Rehm show.org How-to-protect-yourself-from-identity-theft
If you want to be entertained by identity theft, check out mother-daughter duo Alina and Inna Simone - it's a riot:
RadioLab.org Darkode
[I'm notoriously bad with numbers, so grateful for any corrections :)]