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Math Government United States

Green Card Lottery Judgment Favors Mathematical Randomness 210

guusbosman writes "Yesterday a district court in Washington, D.C. issued its ruling in a case that boiled down to the definition of 'strictly random.' In the 2011 drawing of the U.S. 'Green Card Lottery,' a computer programming error was made and two weeks after the official drawing of the lottery the Department of State closed the website and voided the results. A lawsuit sought an injunction claiming that, while the process was not mathematically random, it was random in the dictionary definition of 'without definite aim, direction, rule or method.' The court, analyzing language from the State Department's regulations, and examples from laws on casinos and the like, rejected that and came out in favor of a mathematical definition of randomness. The lottery is voided and the results of the new drawing came out today at noon EST."
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Green Card Lottery Judgment Favors Mathematical Randomness

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  • Re:arson (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @07:48PM (#36781588) Journal

    I think he's talking about Cameron Todd Willingham []. The case involved a house burning down with kids inside. The mother was shopping, the father escaped alone with burns.

    After the man was executed, Gov. Perry stalled the commission tasked with looking into whether the fire marshall investigating the arson had done his job properly (going so far as to restaff it when the first set of handpicked people started to look like they might not give him the answer he wanted).

    The final outcome of the final commission with Gov. Perry's best hand-picked cronies was that the arson investigator used outdated techniques and terribly bad science. The commission was disbanded without considering what conclusions would have been reached by applying modern techniques to the evidence.

  • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @08:06PM (#36781730) Journal

    If labor is to be restricted from freely leaving one country and coming to another, then so too should capital be restricted. If I cannot walk across the border and sell my labor where it is more highly valued, why should the business tycoon on the other side of the line be allowed to set up a factory in my country and exploit my lower standard of living and lower wages? You cannot have an ethical and just system where only one form of immigration is allowed to be effectively infinite and the other is not. The restrictions on capital moving between borders should be similar to the movement of labor. I'd prefer this to be accomplished by loosening the restrictions on the movement of labor, not by restricting capital flow. Letting capital walk the earth freely while we keep workers chained to their place of birth is one of the primary tools of the capitalist elite ruling class and the Global North countries to maintain their hegemony over all peoples. It is directly opposed to the principles of self-determination and progressive philosophy.

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @11:15PM (#36782704)

    People generally get their ideas about race from personal experience, and personal experience is often skewed. If you were white and grew up in the ghettos of Detroit, you might get into your head that blacks have a proclivity towards crime, because many of them commit crimes there. However, this would be subject to selective attention, because in fact many of the whites and many people of every other ethnic group are also commiting crimes there. I'm not even trying to be politically correct here. The fact is that the vast majority of negative things that people attribute to blacks (in particular, but also various latin groups as well here in the US) are NOT a function of race but instead a function of SOCIAL CLASS. (Or perhaps other related things like socioeconomic status, etc.) Even if there is some effect of race on behavior (although what it is is probably 100% neutral), it is FAR overshadowed by the effects of class. The main differences between lower-class blacks and lower-class whites (e.g. trailor trash) are minor cultural things that have only superficial effects on their lack of social graces, education, values, and other things (as they are perceived by people of middle and upper classes). Now, it may be, due to residual effects of slavery or any number of other reasons, that a greater proportion of blacks in the US are lower class, but there ARE plenty of upper-class blacks, and they're no different from the upper-class whites. Dave Chappelle even did a show on this, where each ethic group got to recruit people, and the whites wanted Tiger Woods, and the blacks wanted Eminem. Being "black", culturally and dialectically, is so much a function of where and how you grew up that any effects of race (insofar as there is any such thing) completely disappear into the statistical noise.

    I was reading somewhere about the IQ differences between caucasians, Africans, and Asians. IIRC, Asians tested slightly high, Africans slightly low, and caucasians in the middle. However, the variance was HUGE compared to the differences in mean. The overlap between races was far greater than the differences. It's hard to infer anything useful from these minor differences. However, the fact that one average may be slightly different from the other MAY indicate some differences due to genetics, but we have to keep in mind that (at the risk again of sounding P.C.) no one race is superior, but in fact, we're all superior in the context of how we are adapted to the environment we evolved in. There are some differences in environment between sub-saharan Africa and northern Europe, with the most obvious thing being skin tone. More sun requires more protection against UV rays, or else you get skin cancer. Less sun requires less protection against UV, or else you'll suffer vitamin D deficiencies, which lead to birth defects, among other things. Well, sun isn't the only environmental difference, and there are of course random mutations that differ between geographically divergent groups, or else natural selection couldn't have selected for skin color in the first place. One thing I have noticed, subject of course to observation bias, is that although I am white, I have a _slightly_ easier time connecting socially with blacks, particularly strangers. (Of course, there could just as well be something I'M doing that might explain this better than race or culture or whatever.) But in fact, sociologists have documented studies of low-IQ children and found that while a 70 IQ white kid will typically be socially retarded, a 70 IQ black kid will be socially normal. (I don't recall if the number they mentioned was actually 70, but you get the idea.) Among other things, there may be some suggestion that Africans have evolved slightly superior social intelligence. IQ doesn't measure social intelligence, and the human brain has tradeoffs, where all of our talents must fit within some total capacity. If some capability is greater, then generally some other capability is reduced. Personality theories like Myers-Briggs at

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.