Extraordinary delusions and the madness of crowds

Organizing the stupid to balance the state budget

That mega-lotto thing is at $640 million and counting and people are losing their minds. I’m ahead of all of them because my chances of winning are identical to theirs and I still have the buck I saved by not buying a ticket.

Our Lottery Commissioner Fudrucker has also refrained from spending his dollar and I am not saying that I overheard him on the phone this afternoon discussing the winning number that’s already been drawn. It is possible, however, that he won’t be opening the firm for business Monday.


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42 responses to “Extraordinary delusions and the madness of crowds

  1. Reader

    Millions are falling over themselves to win the prize. It looks like the 99% really want to be part of the 1%, especially if there is no work involved.

  2. AJ

    I’d bet that there are more people who bought a single lottery ticket and became millionaires than there are people who started with a thousand dollars that they turned into million dollar fortunes in the stock market; that there are more people who became lottery millionaires than there are people who became millionaires by working for someone else; that there are more people who became lottery millionaires than there are people who became millionaires by starting their own business with their own money; and that there are certainly more lottery millionaires than there are people who became millionaires by writing and selling an original screenply (the author of Forrest Gump sold the rights for his novel for only $300,000).

    I think what you’re worried about is that there is no harder life to live than the life that requires you to do nothing — it has driven many crazy and even led some to suicide. Didn’t you know that getting up every morning and wondering where the next dollar is going to come from is a blessing? But in your case I’d go for it: you could always become a real estate scoundrel-pirate who sniffs out only those most desperate to sell and dangles a little bag of gold in front of sellers, then turns his back and walks out the door while shouting his final offer. You should go for it.

  3. Anonymous

    if i win i’ll put it in a trust within a trust. i read that’s what smart people do.

  4. JD

    AJ, I think you’re wrong. Chris, I say buy the ticket. For $1, your odds are 1 in 175,000,000 (though you may have to split the winnings). For $0 your odds are 1 in infinity (i.e., nil). Infinity is greater than 175,000,000, so if you can spare the buck, take a chance!

  5. Balzac

    AJ – gotta disagree – ever heard of the thousand Microsoft millionnaires – average people around Seattle who work for the software company and got early stock options – there are even more Apple millionnaires, I bet.

    Capitalism works. Lotteries, according to statisticians, are a tax on stupidity. It’s remarkable that playing the numbers is an old organized crime gig from Al Capone’s day, but the mega-millions… why it’s the government’s monopoly.

  6. Walt

    Dude –
    Do this. Put on your lucky panties, and go buy a ticket. I will give you the dollar. I promise. Or is a ticket two dollars? Doesn’t matter, it is my treat. I am good for it. You know that. And I have a sure fire way to win!!

    You need to pick 6 numbers? Correct? Out of how many? 55? If so, STARE AT THE CARD and pick the 49 numbers you like best. Then play the six that are left!! I GUARANTEE we win.

    We split the pool 60/40 in my favor. That’s only fair because it was my idea. Then we go buy a new Jag, the most expensive one they have, and then drop by Gid’s house. We piss on the seats and leave the keys in his mail box.

    What can we buy for Francis? You can’t buy a personality. Maybe I buy a house from him so he knows what it feels like to actually sell one?

    And you. You have no idea how to manage money, being that you never actually had any. So you give it all to me and I will manage it for you!!

    DO NOT buy the ticket in Greenwich. Go to Stamford, or better yet, Port Chester. Buy it in a liquor store or a gas station. And ask one of “those people” to actually buy it for you. They are the ones that always win. The Greenwich rich dudes that one was a rigged scam.

    And DON’T lose the ticket, you load. Put it in a safe place. Between your butt cheeks so you don’t forget where you hid it.

    Good Luck!!

    Your Pal,

  7. Inagua

    “…my chances of winning are identical to theirs and I still have the buck I saved by not buying a ticket.”

    Not quite. Your chances are zero while the player’s chances are about one in 175 million. And because the after tax lump sum payment is about $300 million the expected value of a ticket is about $1.70, less the possibiity of multiple winners. Not the best investment, but not totally crazy.

    • Milton Friedman gave his blessing to buy one, $1.00 ticket to a big lottery because the satisfaction of the dream was probably worth a buck. I have different dreams,so that dollar has more value for me spent elsewhere.

  8. Walt

    Dude –
    And when we win, I think I will buy this:


    You know who Katherine Hepburn was, right Dude? You ever see her when she was young? Like in “Bringing Up Baby”? She was BEAUTIFUL!! Not Maureen O’Hara hotness, the most beautiful woman who ever lived, but really close.

    You think she was a carpet chomper, Dude? She never got married, and it has long been rumored Spencer Tracy was gay and they were beards for each other. NTTAWWT. Plus he played a convincing Priest, lending further support to this thesis.

    Anyhows, did you buy the ticket yet? Post the numbers so I can watch the drawing and do my little pee pee dance when we win.

    Your Pal,

    • I used Hepburn’s spelling of her name for my own Katharine so yeah, I remember her beauty and grace. As I mentioned here once, she came out from New York to have tea with my grandmother because she said it was granny who inspired her to become an actress. I was away at school at the time – college or law, I forget – and missed meeting her. One of the regrets of my life.

  9. OG17

    Big win for the government – the winner will pay half in federal taxes plus if you are lucky to live somewhere with a state income tax like CT they will get their take too. More money for politicians to waste….

    • Of course it is. The states are intending to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor and the numerically illiterate. Connecticut, just for instance, could wipe out half its deficit if the winner comes from this state. That’s unlikely,of course, but they’ll be collecting millions just from the losers. The funny thing about this is that the DB’s don’t care – they’re so concerned about the Koch brothers they can’t see the grand rip-off of the poor. No one has ever accused Dollar Bill of having attended a single class of introductory economics 101.

  10. Anonymous

    why the buying hysteria? the greedy power brokers behind powerball doubled the price of a single ticket. thus players moved to mega.

  11. Canac the Magnificent

    I alone have the winning numbers. They’ve been kept in a #2 mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s porch since noon today, and I will now reveal them to be: 12-20-25-30-32 MegaBall will be 19. You will thank me later.

    • Only if you split the proceeds with me, but I’m skeptical of your claim anyway because I saw Fudrucker write down the numbers as he was receiving them over the phone straight from Danne Malloy.

  12. anonymous

    Winning the bucu dinero is not the problem. It is the hookers and the blow that will kill you!

  13. Walt

    Dude –

    So let me understand this, if you would be so kind. You had an opportunity to meet the GREAT Katherine Hepburn and you screwed it up? Are you frigging kidding me? You are a bigger loser than even I thought. That is something you make happen if you can. No matter what.

    So let me do some math. OK? Ms. Hepburn died in 2003 when she was 96. She had a great run, so good for her. And you could have met her when you were in college. So let’s say when you were probably 21. Ok? And how old are you know? You seem like a pissy, grumpy, “get off my lawn” type of 84, but let’s call you 59? About right? I think I am in the ballpark.

    So 59 minus 21 is…. uhhh… is 38 years ago? I have to be honest Dude. I cheated and used a calculator on that one. It was really hard.

    So!! 38 years from today makes it when? Isn’t this just like time travel? It’s amazing I tell you!! 1974!! A time when you were wearing your bell bottom jeans, platform shoes, peace medallion, and a purple silk shirt unbuttoned to your belly button. Am I right? YOU KNOW I AM!! And you thought you were the baddest ass on the planet!! But every time “Seasons in the Sun” played on the radio you cried like a little bitch. YES!!!

    Anyhows, if Ms. Hepburn died in 2003 at 96, and you were 21 in 1974, that would make her….that would make her…. Going out on a limb here Dude. That would make her 33 in 1974!! See how the power of deductive reasoning works!! Still an age where she was very desirable from a popability perspective.

    So if you had any brains, which we have clearly established, on multiple occasions, that you do not, you would have went to Granny’s house and served them tea and crumpets. Then when they were done, you would have offered to buy Kate a drink at the Boxing Cat. After you plied her with cheap wine, you take her to HOJO’s, which was right down the road, and gotten a cheap room.

    Then you would have a story to tell.

    You loser.

    Your Pal,

  14. Greenwich Gal

    WALT – You dumbass! I thought you were smart ! By your own calculations, if the great Katherine H – who could not act her way out of a paper bag, by the way – was 96 in 2003 than she would be approximately 66 in 1974!!! NOT HOT!
    Who wants to bang a 66 year old? (Quick piece of internet research….She was actually born in 1907 so in 1974 she could be 67). Quite the piece of ass,… right.
    Banging a senior citizen is kind of a pathetic story. I mean, she’s not Mick Jagger. Or Madonna. Those are the one you just do because they are there. Kind of like Mount Everest.

  15. Walt

    Dude –

    What time is the drawing? And what are our numbers? You know we are winning this, right? Did you buy it in Port Chester like I told you? Wearing your wife beater and lucky panties? While you swill your bottle of Colt 45? All of this matters. If you screwed up any of these steps up, you may have shit the bed. Which would be par for the course for you. You frigging loser.

    I think we should toss some cash to the reader. What do you think? I know it is Hiram, that no talent POS, but lets toss him a bone. OK? Even though he is a no talent moron. We can buy him a thesaurus or an on line spell checker.

    Who else? Delving Eye. She is a peach, and she gets it, and she knows how to write, which I admire, so we toss her a few spagollis. Agreed? Greenwich Girl? I like her too, but she seems flush. So we bring her a champagne magnum, stop by with some hookers and blow and trash the place. She will love it!! EOS? That’s easy. Buy her a kick ass camera. Cobra? A semi automatic anything and he is good to go! Cos Cobber? A two bed room flat in Harlem!! How big of an upward life adjustment will that be for him!! I hope he can handle it.

    Oh, and let’s buy the YMCA. Did I forget anybody? The GAR Evil Princess!! What will she want? A vibrating chair? She will want that, but it may not be an appropriate gift. From her perspective. That frigid little witch. Pocket vibrator may be more discreet.

    You agree?
    Your Pal,

  16. Walt

    Greenwich Girl –
    I love you Sweetheart. But all I can say is …. DUH!!!
    Your Pal,

  17. AJ

    The New York lottery began in 1967, that’s forty-five years ago with most states having two to three opportunities a week to become a lottery millionaire, with many games offering two to three opportunities on each ticket to become a millionaire. So lets take 50 states by 50 weeks (to keep it simple) and you end up with 2500, times two games a week equals 5000, times two opportunities per ticket equals 10,000. Now I know there’s not a winner for every draw, but they almost never fail to give the money away, and many states have three games per week with three chances to win per ticket. So for the sake of simplicity let’s just say that’s 10,000 millionaires per year over a period of forty-five years — that’s a lot of millionaires.

    But according to this excerpt from a CNN article, overall there are more people than that who become millionaires each year. However It’s likely that most of those people were worth just under a million the year before and does not indicate an increase in net worth of a million or more in a single year. So unless someone can show me documented evidence to the contrary I maintain my belief that there is no greater way to go from rags to riches than purchasing a lottery ticket. I might add that the lottery limits your losses to the purchase price of a ticket, whereas short positions, futures contracts, and even real estate trusts may expose you to far greater loss than the money invested. I think a lottery ticket is a much better investment than putting your money into the purchase of a pack of cigarettes, or even a muffin for that matter.

    As a final note, the person who left twenty-five million to the Greenwich Library claims to have built that fortune in the stock market from an investment of five thousand dollars. That’s one example, but I don’t know of any others, let alone thousands of examples. How about you?

  18. AJ

    Oops, left out the excerpt from CNN; here it is: NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The number of American households worth $1 million or more – not including the house itself – grew at the lowest rate in five years, according to a report released Wednesday.

    The report from Spectrem Group said the number of U.S. millionaires increased just 2% in 2007 to a record 9.2 million, up from 9 million in 2006. The country’s millionaire growth rate has not fallen below 8% since 2003, when growth was zero.


    BTW, 2003 shows a growth rate of zero, and I don’t know whether their numbers excludes or includes lottery winners. Most likely some people lost some of their net worth — enough people so that even if their were new millionaires there were less of them than those who fell off the chart.

  19. AJ

    GG, who wants to bang a 66 year old? Any seventy year old who doesn’t mind robbing the cradle, that’s who. Please try to expand your point of view when reaching these conclusions. And I think most people would consider 66 year old Helen Mirren still hot. In fact, she just won “body of the year” title beating out JLo and Pippa (world famous butt) Middleton.

  20. Greenwich Gal

    AJ – well yeah – but we are talking WALT here!!
    And he was giving CF a hard time – read the post – about not getting it on with Ms. Hepburn. He got the math wrong.
    And call me crazy – but most thirty-ish young men don’t want to bang up and coming septagenarians, Helen Mirren excluded.

  21. Cos cobber

    Walt, you’d give me real estate; free and clear!?

    You could have gotten away with usual cos cob offerings; a new tarp for your boat, camper, house or wood pile and unused Val-PAC coupons.

  22. Greenwich Gal

    I just hope I am still bang-a-licious at 68. But I doubt it. I am nothing if not realistic.
    However the great truth is, that at 68, most of the ladies could care less about a rock n’ roll sex life. The occassional roll in the hay, fine. Unfortunately for most of the upcoming older ladies in the world, the future holds that we will still be underneath a bunch of horny old men who want to relive their teenage years thanks to Viagra.
    I smell a Class Action law suit – elder abuse, perhaps?… and lots of K-Y Jelly.

  23. AJ

    Walt’s math is actually pretty good. I think when it came to solving that old elementary school math problem of if x amount of dollars passes through Johny’s hand how much should stick to his fingers, he answered better than most of us.
    As far as Hepburn not being able to act, I doubt there are many who could have done a better job at the roles she played in Philadelphia Story or Bringing up Baby. There is no role more difficult than to come off as believable in a fast paced screwball comedy. As far as Spencer Tracy being gay: he and my grandfather were roommates when they were both working actors in a ensemble group that played out of White Plains, and I never heard anything about it. And no, my grandfather wasn’t gay as my chorus girl grandmother (à la “42nd Street”) could surely attest to if she were still around.

  24. Inagua

    “…the person who left twenty-five million to the Greenwich Library claims to have built that fortune in the stock market from an investment of five thousand dollars. That’s one example, but I don’t know of any others…”

    AJ – I do. I started in 1971 with $8,000 borrowed from four credit cards and had Greenwich Library type money 30 years later. And I know several others who did much, much better than I did.

    Also, with respect to women, GG is totally correct. And 70 year guys (with looks and money) do not have to settle for 66-year old women. The world abounds in attractive young women for sale or rent.

  25. Thanks a million, Walt. I know just where to put those spagollis. 😉

  26. anonymous

    Greenwich Gal,

    Most of you gals will get traded in for newer models long before you have to worry about having septuagenarian sex. Bangalicious at 68? That is just absurd. Good thing you are a realist.

  27. You have so much to learn, dear young GG. “Elder” sex life, those of us in our Medicare years, can be LOTS of things. Mostly, and I don’t think I’m telling bedroom tales, it’s the passion of two people who have had the luxury of decades being happy together, who not only love their partner but like them as a best friend, and who respect them besides. I doubt there’s anything finer than knowing the man at your side doesn’t judge if the body is no longer bang-a-licious but he still wants you. Speak for yourself if you think most ladies at 68 could care less. 🙂

  28. Greenwich Gal

    EOS – I don’t think you are getting it.
    I am talking about Viagra fueled horndogs. If that is what you like and want – go get ’em girl!
    Once again you get SO self-righteous!
    As for AJ – how do you figure that Ms. Hepburn was 33 in 1974? I think not. Back to elementary math for you, my dear!

  29. AJ

    Inagua, if you’re going to buy ’em or rent ’em then you might as well be a day, or night, trader rather than bring someone into your home who likes you the way a cat likes a mouse, prenups not withstanding. Personally I prefer the company of someone who’s at the same stage of life that I’m in rather than trying to keep up with someone half my age who might very well betray me the first moment my back is turned in spite of my personal “charm and beauty”.
    Besides knowing a few people who have turned a few thousand dollars into multi-million dollar fortunes, you probably know a few people who took on too much risk and overleveraged themselves, and turned multi-million dollar fortunes into bankruptcy; and for every person that made a million dollars in real estate, I’m sure there are many more that went broke. Right now is a difficult time to make money, particularly if you’re thinking of starting a company that actually makes something. The early seventies was a bear market buying opportunity (not saying you couldn’t lose money and no discount brokers back then) that’s not likely to be repeated in what’s going on now. Just look around you and look at how many of your once well off neighbors are in deep sh*t. But is everything going to be alright? Of course it is: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/everything-is-going-to-be-alright

    Just curious if you were a Richard Ney, “Wall Street Jungle” follower back in the day?

  30. Inagua

    AJ – I am not familar with that book. I was a very idiocyncratic investor. For example, I began with in railroad bonds.

    I’m glad you prefer monogamous relationships with age appropiate women. But other people prefer variety, and when is offered the choice, GG is right — young is more attractive than old.

  31. calvin recline

    The women on this blog do seem to get under each other’s skin. Can’t you ladies accept the fact that you are each different. Delving wants to save the world and get in Walt’s pants. GG is very high-maintenance and is lucky to have a hubby to afford her keep. She gets pissy fast, a short fuse whenever anyone disagrees with her. I wouldn’t want to be in her way at the Whole Foods parking lot. Peg is a pragmatist, the mediator, the thinker, the brain. EOS is the photographer, the gabber, happy, up for a good time, life seems good for her, and her age and experiences trump GG’s stupid comment about her any day. We guys don’t want to scratch each other’s eyes out and we’re very different. Can’t we all get along? Of the women here, Peg and EOS seem the most appealing to this man of a certain age. It’s GG who “just doesn’t get it.”

  32. AJ

    GG, I never made any comments about Hepburns age, only that she was very skilled at screwball comedy. I did comment that Walt, assuming he’s the real Walt and not an imposter, is quite good at math when it comes to money, especially percentages.

    Inagua, Richard Ney’s book was based on the fact that specialists can manipulate the market by short selling on the minus-tick, and that what they are doing is detectable by watching the ticker, that is the tape not the screen that everyone watches nowadays. Of course the market was much, much simpler back then. A very brief outline of some of his ideas can be seen at: http://w3.tribcsp.com/~fredj/ney.html

  33. Greenwich Gal

    Calvin – You obviously don’t get my sense of humour! Take me seriously at your peril. I am having fun. Walt gets it – and me – and we enjoy the repartee. (no accent aigu on this computer…)
    As for the women here – I enjoy them very much. I actually do get along with EOS and D. Eye. Though I often think they don’t get me either.
    I am just being amused by Walt’s wanting to bang an old lady! Hilarious and so uncomfortable in many ways!
    Have a laugh why don’t ya’?
    So it is you, dear Calvin who does not get it! Lighten up, dude as Walt may say…

  34. AJ

    GG, accent aigu: alt + 130 (numeric keypad) = é; accent grave: alt + 138 = è. See: http://www.tedmontgomery.com/tutorial/altchrc.html also: http://tlt.its.psu.edu/suggestions/international/accents/codealt.html#currency

    And remember all my viagra chomping testosterone chewing old friends out there, as the bunco squad is so fond of saying when they hear of such tales: there’s no fool like an old fool.

  35. Greenwich Gal

    Thank you, AJ! I did not know that. I just hope I will remember it when I need it next.
    And feel free to knock Calvin around a bit. I’m taking some heat here! This blog would be much less fun without me, you have to admit.
    Where is Walt when I need him? He usually comes to my defense – (Insert long sigh here) which is one of the reasons why I adore him so. But also because he is having some fun as well!

  36. Walt

    GG –
    Calvin Recline is Hiram. That douche bag. So you don’t need my help to deal with him. You are more than able to kick his little homo ass. I can spot that no talent weasel a mile away. He thinks he is witty, but he is as funny as a used tampon.
    Your Pal,

  37. Greenwich Gal

    W – I knew you would make your presence known, xoxo