Celebrate it at the 9th International Heartland Conference, Las Vegas
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Don’t miss this spectacular conference in the City of American Culture 2014. The Ninth International Heartland Conference on Climate Change is the biggest and best of all the skeptical conferences. And it is being held at a vital moment.
It is now evident to every honest scientist that the official estimates of climate sensitivity on the basis of which governments are squandering trillions are exaggerations. Yet governments – particularly on the hard Left – are doubling down on robbing taxpayers and regulating out of existence their political opponents’ principal funders, the fossil-fuel corporations.
Climate-extremist governments are going for broke – or, rather, going for making you and me broke – because they, too, know perfectly well by now that our effect on the climate is insufficient to be actually or potentially dangerous. But, after all their bilious, whining rhetoric about the urgent need to Save The Planet, they cannot be seen to have been entirely wrong. The daylight must not be let in on the magic. Ignore the man behind the curtain. Pay no attention to any evidence from the real world.
The only escape from the humiliation that Leftist governments and their cronies in academe, the scientific community, and the news media will otherwise inevitably face is to bully and cajole non-Left governments into collective action to cut CO2 concentrations worldwide. Then, when global temperature fails to rise as they now know it will fail to rise, they will claim that their CO2 reductions Saved The Planet, when the Planet was not at risk in the first place. It is a simple but wicked strategy, which will never be described, still less challenged, in the Marxstream news media.
They may yet get away with it. In Paris next year (if they do not succeed in catching us by surprise this year), they will hope to persuade governments to sign up to a binding climate treaty in all material respects indistinguishable from that which was defeated at Copenhagen.
All the people who may yet stop them will be in Las Vegas. Will you be among them? If so, you will need to reserve your room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at once. The closing date for the special rate of $80 (suites $100) a night plus taxes is Tuesday, June 10. More details at Heartland.com. Be there or be square.
If you want a flutter at the tables, Mandalay Bay is part of the group that has the largest floor space for pit games in town. If you’re not a mathematician, the one thing you need to know is what the game theorists colorfully but aptly call the “mean expected duration until ruin”. It is the number of unit stakes in your starting capital, divided by the house edge (known locally as the “vig”, after the Yiddish word vyiguryish, winnings).
At American roulette, for instance, the vig is 5.3%. If your capital is $1000 and your mean stake is $10, you have 100 staking units. Divide this by 5.3% and your mean expected duration until ruin is 1900 spins of the wheel (often known as “coups” in Monte Carlo or, bizarrely, as “hands” in Vegas.
Though the proof that the mean expected duration until ruin is simply the staking units in your capital divided by the vig is quite complicated, it is a well established result in probability theory. From that result, one can readily demonstrate that, in any casino game with a table staking limit, no system based on varying the stakes (e.g. by continuous doubling) leads to a positive expectation for the player where there is a house edge. The proof consists in treating all stakes at each staking level as a separate game with an expected duration until ruin based on the multiple of that particular stake represented by the starting capital, divided by the vig.
To win, therefore, one needs to turn the vig to one’s favour. One can do this by counting cards at blackjack, which, however, takes guts, skill, long practice, and a considerable theatrical ability to disguise the fact that one is card-counting. My own method, when I was young enough to get away with it, was to chat up the female dealers. That worked every time. I didn’t make a lot, because the casinos would have noticed, and I had to stop doing it when I joined Ten Downing Street.
The casinos have known blackjack can be beaten by a skilled player since the 1950s, when Edward Oakley Thorp, a math professor, published his famous book Beat The Dealer.
Casinos continue to offer blackjack because, although the vig in a game that allows early surrender, dealer peeking, resplit, and double after split can be as small as 0.4% – just about the best one can find at any casino game – the number of players who have the guts to follow the correct basic strategy, which often involves drawing cards or even doubling down when instinct would suggest standing, is very small. The house edge against unskilled or cowardly blackjack players is very large.
Another reason to go to Vegas is that it has gradually become the world’s capital of magic. David Copperfield is at the MGM Grand, and will become the world’s first magician billionaire this year or next. Penn and Teller also have a long-standing Vegas show. If the mood is right, I may even start my own speech – at lunchtime on the last day of the conference – with a simple but baffling illusion.
I have recently been developing various illusions never before attempted, and am putting the finishing touches to a remarkable way to make the moon disappear from the sky – or, as it is known in the trade, to “vanish” the moon. As far as I know, the largest object “vanished” so far is the Statue of Liberty.
The moon is a far more difficult proposition, and the set-up costs would be the most expensive for any illusion not developed for use in warfare [“All warfare is deception” – Sun Tzu]. But, for the privileged few who would pay a lot of money for the experience, it would be utterly unforgettable – and utterly impenetrable.
At one level, the very existence of Las Vegas – not just a gambling joint but the whole hog – is a paradigm of what we are up against in the climate debate – the exploitation by the well-organized few of the insufficiently educated many.
At Harrow, under the wise headmaster Dr James, we were all taught elementary probability theory just at the point where we might be tempted to show what lads we were by ruining ourselves putting bets on at the casinos or, worse, with the bookies, whose vig is a crippling 20% at major races.
My math master, Sir Alan Outram, an unassuming baronet, taught us all how to calculate the bookies’ overround. At one stage they were getting away with 80% at a local point-to-point racecourse.
In a casino, the vig is related to the fraction of the drop (i.e. total buy-in) that the house holds. At American or double-zero roulette, for instance, the vig is 5.3%, but the fraction of the drop held by the house works out at around 25% because of staking and restaking by the players as they work their way along the curve of mean expectation until ruin.
My late beloved father’s housemaster discovered he was putting money on the bookies and shrewdly ordered him, for the rest of that term, to place bets with him instead, at the odds quoted by the bookies.
My father was horrified to discover how much he owed his housemaster at the end of the term. He never gambled systematically again. He was never taught the math, but he was taught a lesson.
Later in life, he was offered the post of head of security at a prominent casino in London. He turned an enormous salary down flat when the then owner of the club offered to pay him half his salary across the tables by way of “winnings” as a way of avoiding tax. A decade or so later, the club’s gambling licence was revoked for alleged irregularities.
In Nevada, if you win big the house is obliged to deduct a swingeing withholding tax. In the UK, if you work or save you are taxed, but if you gamble your winnings – however large – are completely tax-free.
See you in Vegas – and, unless you want to buy me a beer, leave your cash at home.
To register, go here