Gambling no longer a game of chance

“..a Pennsylvania man is now crying foul after he got the short end of the stick in an unfortunate “mishap.” The retired carpenter, who had visited the Philadelphia Park casino before, dropped his two quarters into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine only to win $102,000 — or so he thought. The machine proudly conveyed his winnings right alongside his actual name, sending his emotions into a jovial whirlwind, but apparently the machine wasn’t exactly supposed to, you know, let people hit the jackpot, and now he’s fighting just to get his due reward. A spokesperson for the venue stated that it “was just an error in the communication system,” but added the mistake seems to have originated in the in-house computing system, not within the machine itself. The man was offered “two tickets to the buffet” (saywha?) and advised to read the disclaimer on the machine, nullifying any awards if the machine malfunctions, but he still feels that this “fault” is illegitimate.”  stolen from engadget.

if i’m reading this correctly, this begs the question: if a central computer is dictating which machines win and how much they pay out, is it any longer a game of chance?  does it then become a game of controlled loss? i mean odds are odds but is it still considered chance when a computer decides that it only pays out once every 3,409,403 times played and only 10% of what it takes in because that’s what statistics COULD dictate? if so, i’m in the wrong business.

Important vaccination information

No quips today, just important information that you probably wouldn’t get anywhere else…

There is a  new booster shot for pertussis, better know as whooping cough. Although infants are routinely vaccinated, it has become clear that the benefits of the vaccine wear off by the time you are a teen. It is now advised that teens and adults get the new booster every 10 years. It is easily combined with a tetanus shot.  Although it has been out for about a year, it is now becoming easier to get it from your doctor (at first it wasn’t being supplied for some reason).

Why worry about this? Let me share my story (skip if you have heard this before)… about 2 weeks after my daughter was born my husband started to cough. A lot. He went to the doctor who told him it was a cold and to take cough suppressant. Well, it was a “cold’ like you have never seen. He coughed day and night without stop. Nothing helped. (Take a moment and imagine what it is like to cough nonstop for weeks.) When my daughter was 5 weeks old she started to cough the same cough. As you might guess, they both had pertussis. She had to be hospitalized for three days and had to have oxygen given through her tiny nose. (Take a moment and imagine watching your 5-week old turn blue from coughing and you will understand why I am sending this out.)  Luckily we diagnosed her right away and the could give her antibiotics which helped her significantly.  My husband coughed for about 2 months.

Infants die from this. As the pertussis vaccine is not started until 2 months, the youngest of babies are the ones who are most vulnerable. While you might be willing to risk having a terrible cough for weeks on end, please consider whom you might be coughing on, and that they might have a tiny baby at home.  I urge you to get the booster.

Suburbia: Where the Suburbs Meet Utopia?

This post provides nothing more than connection of a couple of dots in today’s news:

I wish Seattle had the same percentage of roads with bike lanes as Eugene, Oregon — which seems to have them on just about every piece of pavement — though being as level as Eugene would probably do more for human-powered locomotion.

Happy Purim, Y’All

The route I like to go on my run (I call it a run, but I’m no runner, really) goes right past the Seattle Hebrew Academy. Today, when I turned down Interlaken, there was a car at the stop sign and in the passenger’s seat I saw kid in a big ol’ fro wig. Later, when I passed the Academy, parents were collecting their costumed youngsters and I remembered, oh, YEAH, it’s Purim!

Just the other day I made a batch of Hamentaschen in case my plumber came back. We had a long talk about the tribe before he set out to snake the common sewer line that’s giving us so much trouble. When I was in Israel, where my plumber lived after he left Lithuania and before he moved here, I learned that Purim was not Jewish Halloween, though they make it out that way in the US. In Israel it’s more like Jewish Mardi Gras. A sort of Jewish “show us your boobs!” holiday.

From the page linked to above comes this directive:

According to the Talmud, a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai,” though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is.

I can’t recommend the Hamentaschen recipe on that same page, I tried it and the cookie dough just isn’t that good. At any rate, should you find yourself drinking at any time today, rest assured that it’s a-okay with the tribe. Enjoy. I can’t speak for the conflict between this raging party day and Good Friday but since I’m going to hell anyway, I feel okay with my plans to celebrate by going for Chinese food and beer.

No good deed goes unpunished

It’s hard to believe, but two teenage girls have been sued for $900 for leaving freshly-baked cookies on the porch of a neighbour. The elderly woman next door had an anxiety attack, resulting in some medical bills following a check-up at the clinic the next day. Although the girl’s family offered to pay her medical bills if she would agree to indemnify them against future claims, she refused, claiming that the “apologies rang false and weren’t delivered in person”. (Well – duh! – do you think the girls would make the mistake of knocking on her door twice?) The neighbor also said the girls should not have been running from door to door late at night: “Something bad could have happened to them”. Like getting sued, maybe?


KIRO has all the restaurant inspection violation date here. If you page through, you’ll see restaurants like Toi and 5 Spot as well as Las Margaritas and Nibbana Thai–two eateries near my office that I eat at all the time. Or at least used to.

Support Your Independent Movie Theater

After the parade yesterday afternoon (Hi Jay! Hi!), we went down to see Fahrenheit 9/11. (I laughed. I cried. I got a little queasy. I laughed some more. I cried some more.) On the way out my friend N. said this: Didn’t I read somewhere that Loews is owned by The Carlyle Group?

Yup, it’s true. There’s a decent blog post here discussing why this matters – in case you’re one of the 8 or 9 people in Seattle who read this and haven’t seen the movie yet. And if you are, you might think about going to the Neptune instead.

My movie going companions are looking in to what else Carlyle owns that we’ve been buying or using and are wondering if it isn’t time to seek those things elsewhere.

Aside: things I loved about seeing the movie here in Seattle? The way a guy down in the front row let how a horror movie scream the first time Condi appeared on screen and the way everyone burst in to applause when our guy Jim McDermott showed up.

Is That a Cell Phone In Your Pocket or…

Having recently purchased a cell phone small enough to fit comfortably in my front pants pocket, this report on sperm motility piqued my interest. Not that I’m looking to impregnate anyone, but I guess this is evidence that I cannot necessary assume that there are no negative physical effects.

If cell phones could provide reliable and reversible sterility, their market would become even wider. Think of the branding opportunity! Actor: “My Trojan-brand cell phone offers a higher becquerel rating than any other phone currently on the market.” [Cut to picture of nuclear cooling tower covered in colossal condom.]

Research counters claims of malpractice explosion

David has been much concerned of late about the litigious nature of American society, as am I. But I’m a little less willing to embrace wholesale “tort reform” that would severely limit lawsuits. (Why is it that conservatives, who so like privatizing things, resent the privatization of the enforcement of medical and product safety standards? That’s basically what much maligned trial lawyers have done, and yes, some of them have gotten rich doing it, as privatizers always seem to do.)

This op-ed in USA Today marshalls some interesting facts about malpractice cases. At the very least, it’s clear that these suits are not the only (or the major) factor driving healthcare costs up. And, as the sad case of my doctor proves, there are plenty of nice doctors out there doing really awful things.