an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.



And the blog was without form, and void; and darkn...


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$zwichenzug$ sell-out zone





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Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
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Hop, Skip, Jump
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian


some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
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Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus


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Confined Space
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Labor Blog
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This Modern World
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Political Animal
The Volokh Conspiracy


some other links

Rule 33
This Week in Chess
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On


some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Monday, January 05, 2004



Here in the ivory tower, folks think that rationality is somehow valuable. This leads to all sorts of disagreeable conduct, including a tendency to seek explanations for behavior which portray one's actions as emanating from cold reason rather than, say, the interplay of viscous humours.


Is it rational to play PowerBall?

On the assumption that the only relevant values are monetary, then it will be rational to play PowerBall whenever the expected utility of the ticket is higher than the price. It turns out that it becomes rational to play PowerBall whenever the jackpot is over $100 million.

Like all lotteries, PowerBall pays out for a number of prizes other than the jackpot. For example, PowerBall pays $3 if you match just the powerball, and the odds of doing so are 1 in 70.39. That chance of winning adds to the value of the ticket. In this case, the added value is about four cents. [ (1/70.39)*3 ]

The total value of the chance to win all prizes short of the jackpot is a little over 17 cents (to be exact, it's $0.17331097110494888).

Once we know this, it's easy to determine how large the jackpot must be to make buying a ticket rational. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 120,526,770. When we multiply the jackpot by these odds, we get the value of the chance of winning the jackpot. Since we've already got over 17 cents in our pocket from the subsidiary payouts, it will be rational to buy a lottery ticket if this number is above 83 cents. When we crunch the numbers, we find that this occurs whenever the jackpot rises to at least $99,638,158.45.

Last week, the PowerBall jackpot was $210,000,000.00. This meant that a ticket was worth nearly $1.92. Since tickets sold for only a dollar, a lottery ticket was a good value. Investors who took advantage of this opportunity would, briefly, have shown a very healthy return.

A caveat: The preceding analysis assumes that the value of the jackpot can be known. In fact, this assumption is false. There is a non-negligible chance that more than one winning ticket will be sold. In such cases the jackpot is split equally among all winners. Thus, the expected utility of a ticket is significantly lower than one would expect given the published value of the jackpot.

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