Vice Squad
Monday, December 13, 2004
London Lottery, Linkless

This post comes to you from an internet cafe in London, from where I don't think that I will be able to add any links. Sorry. While on the subject of the location of Vice Squad, I should mention that I am slated to be away from Chicago for the next two weeks (London, Moscow, Baltimore). This will make for sporadic blogging, I am afraid, but that is in keeping with the uneven pace of the past couple of months. I maintain this odd confidence that come February, I will be able to be a more attentive vice blogger. Hope over experience, as it were, to draw upon London history.

Not only can I not link, I managed not to bring yesterday's Observer with me, complete with its two articles touching upon the National Lottery. The first article concerned an examination by statisticians of past winning lottery numbers. The British National Lottery uses one of those 'numbered ping pong ball' selection methods. Anyway, the results seem to be fairly consistent with the hypothesis that the draws are 'truly random,' though there are some anomalies. Then again, some anomalies should be expected, even if the draws met the (impossible in practice) 'truly random' ideal! But one of the anomalies is pretty severe, suggesting that the ping pong method might have a detectable (and potentially exploitable) bias. What is the mysterious bias? The number 38 has been drawn waaaaaay too much. Wow.

The second lottery story in the Observer, and furthered in today's Guardian, is that there seem to have been some irregularities in distributing the revenues raised by the National Lottery. Specifically, some charities look as if they received their lottery grants through a less-than-arm's-length process. Details are sketchy -- even if I had managed to bring the article with me.

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