STUMP » Articles » Lazy Sunday: Elections, Math Thoughts, and Pension Ads Invade my Apps » 27 November 2016, 10:30

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Lazy Sunday: Elections, Math Thoughts, and Pension Ads Invade my Apps  


27 November 2016, 10:30

Recently, I saw the following video pop up in my facebook memories, from 2008:

Yes, that’s me presenting the high-level explanation of Kenneth Arrow‘s research that won the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics: where Arrow proved there is no such thing as a fair voting system. (under a very specific set of axioms to define “fair”, but most people would agree that these axioms make sense.)

Though there is no such thing as a purely fair voting system, there are several ones out there that have various balancing goals. The U.S. Electoral College (as well as the House and Senate structure, and having three separate branches of government) has a particular goal: you can’t have someone who appeals only in highly-densely-populated areas. It also can take a very close result in percentage terms and make a definite winner.

It also shuts out third parties, but that’s for another time. Parliamentary systems do something else entirely, and in some of these parliamentary systems, the Single Transferable Vote system is being proposed, which can work well for that sort of thing. I don’t know if it’s been put into effect for any parliamentary system, but it would be interesting to see how well it works out.

Here’s a different election set-up:

That was from 2010, so I don’t know that they’re still doing it this way. They keep changing it so that they get the “correct” results. Seems to me they need to change the voters, and not the voting method. But that’s for an entirely different time.


I haven’t done these videos in years, partly because better production values have come along, and then I really can’t compete with Khan Academy for general math topics. Lots of people are doing this sort of thing.

I may be able to compete when it comes to explaining pension issues, as that’s not quite so popular, so I may be reviving the channel for that purpose.

In the mean time, you can check out my videos explaining parity in math, the pigeonshole principle, and what it is really like to “do math”.

And a seasonal-related video: how many presents are in the Twelve Days of Christmas?



Yes, I have all sorts of alerts set up in my mail, and people email me pension stories, but sometimes I come across something pension-related when I really didn’t mean to. I like to waste time playing Candy Crush just like the next person.

I had just downloaded a logic puzzle game, that is ad- and in-app-purchase-supported, as is extremely common with apps nowadays. And after finishing one of the levels, I saw the following at the bottom of my screen:

Lovely. (22.5 years = a lifetime career? COME ON)

I tried clicking on it, but it just forwarded to the next ad in the queue instead of going anywhere. Searching around, I think it was supposed to go to this page.

From the lower righthand corner of that page:

FDNY Firefighter benefits include:

- Lifelong health coverage for you & your family
- Excellent medical leave benefits
- Flexible work schedules to meet your needs
- Over five weeks paid vacation per year
- Generous pension after 22.5 years of service


I want to point out that 75% of FDNY retirees have disability benefits. Now, this is not to scare off potential FDNY recruits. There’s a question about how “disabled” all these people are.

I’m just saying you might be getting a lifetime pension in well under 22.5 years. There are still ongoing disputes re: how strict they should be about the disability pensions. I will have to look at FDNY pensions another time, but take a gander at their Public Plans Database page in the mean time.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers (I just polished off our pulled pork for breakfast), and see you for more pension stuff later this week!

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