If you win the Powerball jackpot today, there are a few things you should know. After beating the 1 in 175 million odds, you have an 11 in 175 million chance of being killed in your car after collecting the winnings. If you survive that, you have a 327,250 to 175 million chance of being robbed of those winnings, and a 805,000 to 175 million chance that new mansion will go up in flames, according to Eve Waltermaurer, associate professor of sociology at State University of New York at New Paltz.
Probability is a bitch some times. (From the Poughkeepsie Journal)
It’s good to step back some times and look at the really long view. Charlie Stross just did this with his new blog post on 2512, which provides a plausible look at what that world might be. I especially like the framing, about thinking what the world was like 500 years ago:
Five hundred years is a nearly unimaginable gulf from today’s perspective. Five centuries ago, the Portuguese conquistadores were beginning their rampage through South America; Martin Luther was finishing his doctorate in theology and thinking about sin: the huge sequence of civil wars that racked Japan for over a century were raging: the Great Powers were still the Chinese empire and the Caliphate (although the latter was undergoing a shift in center of gravity towards Istanbul and the Ottoman empire). The great powers in Europe were Spain and Venice; the English speaking world was a few million barbarians occupying a handful of damp islands on the outer fringes of Europe. It’s more than twice the historical existence of the USA to this date. Of our social institutions, very few survive from that long ago: the Catholic Church (and various orders and sub-groups within it), the Japanese Monarchy, and so on. A handful of universities, banks, and other institutions. The half-life of a public corporation today is about 30 years: ten half-lives out — 300 years hence — we may expect only one in a million to survive.
The whole post is definitely worth your time, but I do keep coming back to that half life statement. We take it for granted some time that organizations that exist today will be there tomorrow. But the reality is there is nothing magical about organizations, it’s about the people. Things only get done because some decides to do them.
Contemplating the long view seems like an appropriate Sunday morning activities.
* personally guilty of this one
The Atlantic just published an in dept look at the Tech team behind the Obama campaign. It’s a little personality heavy, because they are trying to make tech interesting to the average reader, but putting that aside, there is quite a bit of detail on the team and tech structure behind the campaign.
Contrast that with what happened in the other campaign, where this was clearly not a core part of what they were doing.