Archive for South Africa

(im)possible lottery outcome

Posted in Kids, Statistics with tags , , , on December 27, 2020 by xi'an

Another outcry after an “impossible” lottery result that “must” be fraudulous! Obtaining the sequence 5,6,7,8,9,10 on the Tuesday December 1, 2020, draw of the Souht-African Powerball is indeed a low probability event. Just like obtaining any fixed sequence on a specific day for a specific lottery system. As I am unsure the last number has to differ from the others or not, consider the approximation where the 6 numbers are drawn uniformly without replacement from the first fifty integers. The number of outcomes is then approximately 16 millions, making any fixed outcome having a chance of 6 10⁻⁸ of happening for one draw. However, the psychological impact of an “impossible” lottery result would have been the same for any sequence of 6 consecutive numbers, which makes the event happening with a probability of approximately one chance in 400,000. Not so staggering then! And considering the repetition of lotteries, space- and time-wise, it takes roughly 40,000 draws for a consecutive sequence to be drawn with probability 10%. Which means 16 years if considering each US State having a draw every week…

Rooibos tax for aboriginal communities

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2020 by xi'an

Just read in the 150th anniversary issue of Nature that the South African Government had agreed to a share of the rooibos tea profits be reversed to the aboriginal San and Khoi communities. Following a lengthy debate on whether or not rooibos tea was in use before European settlers invaded the area. I cannot remember when I started drinking rooibos but it may have been connected with reading my first book of the delicious Mma Ramotswe and the №1 Ladies Detective Agency series…! Which author, Alexander McCall Smith is a self-declared tea addict. (Since the story is located in Botswana, I have no idea whether or not tea is exported from this country and if the benefits reach the local communities.)

so long, Johnny Clegg!

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , on July 17, 2019 by xi'an

“Stein deviates from the statistical norm”

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by xi'an


the girl who saved the king of Sweden [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2015 by xi'an

When visiting a bookstore in Florence last month, during our short trip to Tuscany, I came upon this book with enough of a funny cover and enough of a funny title (possibly capitalising on the similarity with “the girl who played with fire”] to make me buy it. I am glad I gave in to this impulse as the book is simply hilarious! The style and narrative relate rather strongly to the series of similarly [mostly] hilarious picaresque tales written by Paasilina and not only because both authors are from Scandinavia. There is the same absurd feeling that the book characters should not have this sort of things happening to them and still the morbid fascination to watch catastrophe after catastrophe being piled upon them. While the story is deeply embedded within the recent history of South Africa and [not so much] of Sweden for the past 30 years, including major political figures, there is no true attempt at making the story in the least realistic, which is another characteristic of the best stories of Paasilina. Here, a young girl escapes the poverty of the slums of Soweto, to eventually make her way to Sweden along with a spare nuclear bomb and a fistful of diamonds. Which alas are not eternal… Her intelligence helps her to overcome most difficulties, but even her needs from time to time to face absurd situations as another victim. All is well that ends well for most characters in the story, some of whom one would prefer to vanish in a gruesome accident. Which seemed to happen until another thread in the story saved the idiot. The satire of South Africa and of Sweden is most enjoyable if somewhat easy! Now I have to read the previous volume in the series, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared!

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