toto time! 8 million is up for grabs, which means many people dreaming about quitting their jobs, getting that ferrari they've always wanted and making a mattress out of cash.

do you believe in lucky outlets? here's my take. places where you can buy toto are scattered not so randomly around singapore. certain areas will have higher catchment areas (higher population, human traffic). through a greater sale of tickets as well as luck, some outlets start to post higher than average number of wins (positive noise). this then creates an accumulation effect as this statistical noise is transmitted by word of mouth... so you end up with a self-fulfilling accumulation of wins (not quite like a bubble) and you have places like 7-11 getting 43 wins! it's unstable dynamics, and one should expect it to be more and more unequal over time! people should be checking rate of hit, not number of wins... that way we know that there are no supernatural forces at work... of course, if there are anomalous rate of strike... then...

you can check the theory by roughly seeing if those outlets at the top have high human traffic, and those lower have lower human traffic, except if they happen to be near an already famous outlet.


at the bottom tail, it's not significant anyway... pay attention to the middle and the top.

there is a common sense lesson to all of this... you have initial noise amplified into a self-perpetuating inequality. thomas schelling showed an example of how racial segregation occurs when people simply have minor preferences not to be surrounded by people of another race. Now, these are basically a phenomenon known as "cellular automata", and mathematically enough people have experimented with them.

look at pretty pictures:
Conway's Game of Life:

At work I play with trade data. While nominally there is a site called "trademap", what it really does is spew out numbers. You have to draw your own pictures to visualize the data. But if you did draw it out, you would see that the world is very far from the homogenous economies gravity model assumptions. there are sinks and "black holes" which just have tremendously thick arrows coming out of everywhere. fine, so you wish to model and make something tractable, but I see a lot of work still starting from CES (Dixit-Stiglitz) production functions, the maths of which is not easy, and producing conclusions which while not incorrect, are nowhere close to what you see.

so while economic geography interests me (i used to like geography), and the lse is a good place to study it because some of the early work was done here, i'd like to see models which make extensions not by making existing equations more complicated (i.e. adding more variables), but by using more intuitive, spatial ways of modelling. and that way perhaps we can leave some of this world always tending to equilibrium in the long run, when i want to know what happens next year. and then at least i have a plausible descriptive reason for why governments apparently feel it is so important to kick start investment: for agglomeration. how transport costs affect trade flows. how extending the congestion charge area could increase congestion.

and every post of mine must have this rant. while everyone loves saying that keynes was "proved" long, he had a remarkable common sense handle on people's psychology, even though the math wasn't there. this is true of many economic historians and economists of the time. that's how one needs to start... postulate animal instincts... and many years later maybe someone will show you how to model it... enter behavioural economics...

back to real life, and training myself to have a passable conversation on aeronautics so i'm not totally clueless. just as i was coming onto that industry, cnbc decides to run a feature on how airliners are facing a difficult future. but that means cutting costs and benefits for generic parts manufacturers.

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