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Buridan’s Ass refers to a Medieval paradox concerning the logic of rationality and freewill. It demonstrates the tension between formal and informal ways of thinking and the sometimes paradoxical consequences when this tension is ignored.

…a man, being just as hungry as thirsty, and placed in between food and drink, must necessarily remain where he is and starve to death. — Aristotle

The phrase is a parody of Jean Buridan’s philosophy of moral determinism. An Ass that is equally as hungry as it is thirsty is placed inbetween water and food, equidistant to each. Since the Ass is unable to choose which one to go to first, it will die of thirst and hunger.

puppyI received several messages informing me that this blog used to have a picture of a cute puppy and that during the redesign last year it was inadvertently removed. I must admit I was somewhat surprised at the outpouring of feeling, but it would appear that the general consensus is that this picture should be reinstated forthwith.

For this oversight I can only apologise and seek to make amends. I did give you a donkey but that doesn’t seem to be enough to pacify some people. Therefore as requested, here is the puppy.

Regular readers can be reassured that in future posts we will refrain from nausea and return to more important matters. On this you have my word!

Now let us never speak of this again.

I’m kind of honored this week to have been asked to speak at this years AGM and conference for William Hill. It’s an offer I intend to accept. In a 15 minute slot I will attempt to deal with the logic and psychology of how and why people bet money. Focus will be on internet and mobile interaction rather than n store – I think they know enough about that already.

William Hill are, as you know, a major international brand. Large providers such as this need to find ways to stay ahead of the competition and customer profiling is one way to do so. Every firm has access to data about its customers but it’s a case of knowing when and how to use it, and why.

When you know who your customers are and what they are thinking, you have a better idea of what they want. And when you know what they want you know how best to pitch your promotions to them. William Hill already do a pretty good job of this in my opinion, and you can see more details of their signup offers and ongoing offers here. However even when you have successful offers, there is always room for improvement and small margins make the difference.

If you’re attending the conference I look forward to seeing you there. If not stay tuned to the blog and I hope to have some more posts for you soon.

SI ExifEach month I will be scouring the internet and nominating my Ass Of The Month award for complete logic failures. This month’s award goes to the Mediawatch section of football365.com.

This is a column that I normally enjoy and is popular with football (or soccer if you prefer) fans globally. However, it is their discussion of the saga surrounding the Roy Hodgson “Space Monkey” joke that lets down what is normally a well written and logical column, and makes them seem rather foolish.

Here’s where they have a major brain fail, when they state that “If you want to know why there isn’t a Society of White Lawyers, then you’re part of the problem”.

Firstly, the majority of people seem to agree that there is no problem for anybody to be part of. But leaving that aside, why is it any more wrong for a society of white lawyers to exist than a society of black lawyers? Both are wrong, both are completely illogical, and neither should be allowed. In fact both are (or would be) a self defeating entity.

Let’s look at this logically. Racism is discrimination against an individual on grounds of the colour of their skin, right? And what we all (including, one would assume, the society of black lawyers) want to achieve is the eradication or racism.

In a society where racism didn’t exist, there would be no such thing as a black lawyer, and no such thing as a white lawyer. There would only be a lawyer. Therefore the society of black lawyers actually wants to achieve a situation where they themselves could not possibly exist.

How’s that for a paradox?

Mediawatch, you are usually an entertaining read but on this occasion you let your moral outrage win at the expense of your usually sound logic. For that reason, the inaugural Ass of the Month award is yours.

It’s a good question isn’t it? I can understand the social aspect of gambling in real life, whether it be the interaction with other players at a casino table, or conversation with other punters in a bookmaker. But when you gamble online, you get none of that. So what’s the attraction?

I did some research on this to try and get some other viewpoints, and the following video from Navin Bahl was able to offer some interesting perspective.

More to come on the subject of online gambling in future posts. Since it is something that will be coming from the UK to the USA in the near future, I consider it to be a topic worthy of further disucssion.

A friend sent me the link to this short YouTube film which depicts a young man who is a (somewhat unsuccessful) gambler but learns that he’s about to become a father and has to change his ways.

My thoughts? A somewhat predictable storyline, but well made nontheless. Where the logic falls down is that not all gamblers lose. Some, such as Patrick Leitch, have become multi millionaires through betting on horse racing.

So is it gambling that is bad, are the bookmakers the enemy, or is it really a matter of individual choice, self discipline and basic hard work and talent? Should Leitch have stopped gambling at a young age? His bank account would say otherwise. That is the issue I have with those who preach that betting is evil – it’s not betting, it’s (some of) the idiots who do it. But they would be idiots whatever they did…

Anyway, more on the logic of gambling later. For now, here’s the movie.

Professor Daniel Dennett offers his views on how religion offers people an excuse to stop thinking for themselves.

Dennett was also recently featured on the BBC, likening religion to the common cold. The common cold, of course, currently has no cure.

Anyone still feeling sneezy?

One year ago…

It has been confirmed that two suspect, 19 year old Jake England, and 32 year old Alvin Watts have admitted to shooting 5 people in Tulsa.

The shootings happened on Good Friday, early morning, leaving 3 dead and 2 others seriously injured. England confessed to shooting 3 of the victims, while Watts confessed to shooting 2 of them. What caused the rampage in Tulsa’s predominately black neighbourhood? Perhaps revenge stemming from a murder that occurred 2 years ago.

Carl England, Jake England’s father, was fatally shot in 2010 by a man who threatened his daughter. The intruder then kicked in the door, uttered a racial slur and shot Carl England. He was a black man, and since, Jake England has been screaming for revenge.

The 2 shooters have been to court and their bonds are set at 9 million dollars apiece. The charges thus far have been three counts of first degree murder along with other crimes.

Family and friends of Jake England say that he hadn’t been the same after his father’s shooting, but was filled with rage. A neighbour stated that he’d been taking depression medication to help him with his grief. To make matters worse, England’s fiancé killed herself shortly after giving birth to their child. England posted about his feelings on Facebook, stating, “it’s hard not to go off.” His feelings may be understood because the man who shot his father was never brought to justice, claiming self-defence. He only served a 6 year sentence for burglary and probation violations.

The second shooter, Carl Watts moved in with Jake England to try to help him contain his rage. Shocked by the events, Watts’ brother stated that Carl had never been a racially discriminatory individual. Clearly, England was the motivating factor in the shootings.

The shootings appear to be random shootings, but racially motivated. At first, the shots heard were thought to be gang violence, but one eye witness says he was shocked to see that the shooter was a white man in that part of the neighbourhood. Before the shooters were caught, the whole neighbourhood was on alert, arming themselves for action. No one understood the motivation behind the shootings.

It’s a sad turn of events when a man turns to violence stemming from unclosed issues. One can feel for England and what he suffered through his father’s murder and then the tragic loss of his fiancé. It is not clear yet why Watts played a role in the murders, but hopefully that will soon come to light. It seems that in this case, the anger of a young boy got the better of both men and ended up in the deaths of 3.

The Dilemma Of The Sanford, FL Police Department

Following the recent death of Trayvon Martin, another similar case has come to light which has caused unrest amongst local communities and heaped pressure on the police department of Sanford, Florida.

In 2010, a masked gunman killed a 17 year old boy in the north side of the city in an apartment complex. When police found the boy, another boy was sitting next to the body. The police charged that teen with robbery and murder. Both boys were black.

The mother of the murdered 17 year old is appalled that important evidence was overlooked, including an eye witness stating that another person was responsible for the shooting. The boy found with the body was soon released, but no other arrest has been made in the case.
The mother, Ruffin, states that the police didn’t do their job. Her concern is understandable, considering the circumstances.

Ruffin says that she can see the similarities in her son’s case and that of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon was an unarmed teen gunned down by a neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. No arrest has been made in that case either. There was also no evidence to support that the shooting was necessary. Seems police just took Zimmerman’s word that he acted in self-defence under the Stand Your Ground law.

These two cases together have brought Sanford police’s competence into question, Ruffin says. But these aren’t the only things that are causing alarm. Not only was there no arrest in the Trayvon or Ruffin case, but police officers have been caught accepting bribes, demanding bribes, fabricating evidence and drawing their guns without reason within the past three years. All of this has caused outrage in the local community. The Martin case is now a national concern.

The local NAACP president in Sanford says that the department is notorious for mishandling investigations. They don’t follow leads or tips and don’t follow up with evidence. When a loved one of a victim asks if there has been any progress in their case, they are simply dismissed and not given any further details. The police department makes no headway at all in their cases, the president says.

Sergeant David Morgenstern, a police spokesperson for the Sanford department declined to respond to any of the allegations of their negligence. He says that there is no comment in response to the allegations.

The Sanford police department has made a name for itself nationally, since the Trayvon Martin case. Their alleged negligence is a topic of debate nationwide, with prominent social leaders, politicians and pundits stating that there was a grave injustice done in the Martin case, and that Zimmerman should have at least been arrested.

The investigation is now known as one of the sloppiest in history. The Prosecuting attorney has now confirmed that Zimmerman will not be seen before a Grand Jury, but that it does not mean an arrest will not be made. We have yet to see the arrest, so until then, community unrest is, and will continue to be, rampant.

Mahjong is an ancient game that originated from China. The game is featured on some of the best free online gaming websites, and has been a popular game for many years. The original game is played typically with four people and is somewhat different from the online single player game that is available. The original Chinese version of the game involves one hundred and thirty six tiles being placed onto a table and then dealt equally between the players. The game then involves the rolling of a dice and the stacking of the tiles.

The modern online version is very different from this. The tiles are stacked in a certain way and the game involves taking away two matching tiles at a time until all the tiles are gone. This usually needs to be done within a time limit and can be quite challenging for the player. You are only allowed to take certain tiles away at a time, depending on where they are in the stack. For instance, you cannot touch a tile which is surrounded by other tiles and you must therefore take tiles away until you can get to that particular one.

The tiles are patterned with typical Chinese patterns, numbers, writing and flowers. This is much the same as the original game in that respect. There will typically be several of each exact tile and matching them can be difficult.

This game requires good observational skills to complete, however, if you do not complete it the first few turns, you will find that your observational skills improve with each turn. You will begin to notice the tiles quicker and will be able to recognise which tiles you can and cannot take away. This game is a great learning tool for children and adults and is a challenge that will be accomplished if you continue to persevere.

Mahjong has proved to be a fun, interesting, challenging and addictive game. Once you lose you will feel the need to keep playing until you do win. This is actually a useful quality that the game has because that drive to persevere is an important part of everyday life for everyone. Without that drive the world would be full of unmotivated underachievers because people would simply give up on the first hurdle. It is in our nature to be driven by success and goals, whether they have this intention or not. We are extremely complex beings who learn from everything that we do, including the games that we play.

If you are looking for a game that not only keeps your attention but also keeps you learning, Mahjong will be the game for you. This games is fun and is a useful way to increase your observational skills in an enjoyable way.