September 16, 2008

What did YOU invent?

So, let's see, Al Gore invented the Internet, John McCain invented the Blackberry. What have you invented today? If you were going to claim that you'd invented something, what would it be? Would it be technology related, or would it be something else with lasting effect on the world?

I think that perhaps I'll claim that I invented the aglet, the plastic sleeve that encloses the end of the shoelace, making it easy to thread through the eyes of the shoe.

The political process has become such a ridiculous show. I'm so disappointed in the process, the candidates, the campaign methods, the dirty tricks, the stupidity and absurdity of the press coverage....

Meanwhile, the United States economy is falling apart, ignoring sound foreign policy doctrine, pissing off peoples and governments (Pakistan, Russia, several South American countries) all over the world. Are the sound bites on the news about how the candidates will change foreign policy? Are the sound bites about how the government plans to get us out of this enormous financial hole which they have dug with their pyramid scheme of a fiat currency?

I wonder if I can run for President if I invent something cool, like an automatic apple corer.....

New Post Type: Frustration

Frustration - a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs

I find myself irritated by a variety of frustrations that plague my working environment. I work as a contractor for the Department of Defense. My work helps me to understand that there is no evil master plan being cooked up by a vast governmental conspiracy. How do I know? Conspiracy requires a minimal level of competence that does not appear to exist in this environment.

Little things seem to be more and more irritating to me these days. Perhaps it is my advancing age (whose age isn't advancing? [Merlin - ok, you got me, name a non-fictional character]). For example: Web applications. Is it so hard for web developers to add a timeout script to their interfaces that will warn me, the user, that my session has expired and that the screen I'm looking at is no longer usable?

It REALLY SUCKS to sit and use a beautiful Flash, Java or DHTML interface for 3 minutes designing my input into the system, only to be given a 'Your session expired and your input has been thrown away' message when hitting submit.

Has computer technology devolved so much that we can't add a clock to the friggin' interface with a countdown timer to when the page is no longer going to be valid?

September 04, 2008

Actuarial Analysis of a McCain Presidency

News outlets have been throwing around a number - 16% - That's what they say the odds of VP Palin becoming the first woman President of the US should McCain win the election in 2008. I brought up this number in a conversation, and was asked to back it up - so I went and looked at an actuarial table. Actuarial table gives odds on someone dying within the year, depending on age. John McCain will be 73 at time of swearing in. A 2004 actuarial table gives these odds for males of that age:
73-0.036086, 74-0.039506, 75-0.043415, 76-0.047789. Now, you can't just add these together, because if the person doesn't die when he's 73, he doesn't have a combined odds of dying at 73 and 74, he just has the remaining odds. To compute this, you take the odds of dying in year 1, and the odds of NOT dying at 73 multiplying by the next year, and so on.

Computing this way, you get a combined odds of dying between the ages of 73 and 76 (if you've already lived to 73) of 16.15%.

These odds are computed with an actuarial table on the Social Security Admin's web site.