Sunday, January 31, 2016


One of the layers themes of LOST was akin to sibling rivalry.

We begin with the LOST mythology of using a waking eye. It is said to have symbolized an ancient Egyptian god.  The Eye of Horus was a powerful protective symbol, and represents the eye of the god Horus that was injured in a fight with the god of chaos, Set.  This battle was for control of the underworld from the god Osiris. 

Jacob and his brother were locked in a battle for the island. Jacob agreed to protect it, while his brother demanded to leave with the outsiders. But Crazy Mother said Jacob's brother could not leave. He killed her, then Jacob caused his brother's demise - - - and creating an eternal monster called The Man in Black, or a smoke monster. At some point there was a truce; and then a odd game between themselves using humans as pawns.

Then there was the battle of control over Dharma. Horus was challenged by Ben, who sided with the native Others. Ben used mass murder to overthrow Horus and eliminate any outsiders.

There were several rivalries around Jack. First, Jack had a rivalry between his father. His father's lack of interest or acceptance of Jack gnawed on his son. Second, Jack had a rivalry with Locke over the direction of the survivor's camp. Locke wanted to embrace the island. Jack wanted to find a means of leaving it. (The theme of mirroring as in the Jacob-MIB dynamic). Jack wanted the camp to move to the fresh water caves, but Sawyer, another rival, did not. And when Kate stayed on the beach with Sawyer, Jack had to suffer his first leadership defeat.

There were other personal battles. Desmond battled Widmore for Penny's affection. Hurley battled his own personal demons, including his "imaginary friend" Dave, for his own soul. Then there was Locke's rise to power in the Ben's Other's camp. The test was whether Locke could kill his father to become the leader. He could not, but since the Others had grown weary of Ben's tyranny, Alpert gave Locke a loophole to become king of the island.

So LOST could be viewed as a series of vignettes about two people butting heads. Stubbornness, anger, bruised egos, headstrong demands, illogical actions . . . . those were several key traits from the main characters draw out by the conflict between themselves.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


There is a position in the LOST universe that says that the fans who hated The Ending never understood it. Or that they were never real fans of the show. Or they expected too many answers to the questions posed in the story lines.

In order to justify this viewpoint, it is said that the final season of LOST was its own universe, its own independent story - - - its own self-contained bubble. It's features and attributes do not reflect what was happening in the island world. In other words, the fact that the characters in the sideways world were dead did not mean that the characters were dead all along. But that in itself is only a supposition.

Except, there were connections between the two worlds. In the sideways world, it was a character's "awakening" that flooded back island memories to re-bond with lost friends and lovers.

But if you do want to separate LOST into two distinct, independent stories, here is what you get:

THE ISLAND world would apparently have ended with Juliet detonating the bomb, killing everyone on the island. Or, as the science would tell, you can't detonate an atomic bomb with a rock (there needs to be a complex chain reaction explosion to detonate a nuclear device), so the bomb did not work. That would mean the island characters were still "alive" and battling among themselves in the Jacob-MIB feud.

THE SIDEWAYS world would be totally different. For example, none of the characters were ever in a plane crash or lived on the island. They were normal people with normal problems. Ben was a school teacher taking care of his disabled father. Locke was a disabled substitute teacher who was happily married to Helen. Jack was divorced but from Juliet. He had a son. Hurley was a successful businessman after winning the lottery; a confident community leader. Sun and Jin had made it to the US. She was expecting their child.

Now, complete separation of the characters time lines has to be part of any independent universe view. In the linear story telling of the show, the sideways events happened AFTER the island events. And that creates a clear paradox. The children were born in the prior island time, but were not born in the sideways world until the end. And the End was a place of death so how can children be born in the sideways world? Again, the theory that the sideways is self-contained means it is not fair to ask that broad question.

Then you have to look at LOST as two franchises. The island and first 5 seasons were the original. The sideways episodes were the "re-boot" of the franchise (as JJ Abrams did with Star Trek). But that seems too confusing and inconsistent with what the show writers were telling fans at the end of Season 5.

One could divide the worlds into one where the gritty danger of real life engulfs a person with one where a person's dreams and imagination of a perfect life controls. If you take the sideways world as the collective dreams of the island characters, folding it like whipped cream into a cake batter, then you would discount Season 6 as mainly unimportant filler.

If, as some fans thought at the time, the sideways world was truly a glimpse of the characters if Flight 815 did not crash, then that would be fine . . . . until the point when the writers merged the fantasy with the island "awakenings" and the poor choices to conclude the series, such as Sayid embracing his alleged soul mate, Shannon, instead of Nadia. In fact, the whole structure of Season 6 was premised upon Eloise trying to keep Desmond and Penny a part in the sideways world - - - because she knew it would open a Pandora's box of memories to the characters which would cause her son, Daniel, to remember how cruel she was to him.

The two LOSTs explanation is one way of looking at the series. Two distinct character studies of the cast members. But that is a dry, academic explanation. And really unnecessary. If you wanted to show the good and moral side of a character, such as Ben, you could have made those changes in the island world story. You could have had the characters leave the island and try to adapt to LA instead of creating a conflicting, parallel universe.

LOST was one show and one series. It has to be accepted as being one, complete, and coherent story. The last part is what continues to cause fans the most problems. The blanket explanation that the show was only about the characters and their actions and reactions to events is shotgun logic. It does not explain the important mysteries the writers gave us to solve. It does not give closure. It just keeps fans debating the merits of the ending.

Monday, January 25, 2016


The X-Files ran on Fox TV for 9 years, ending in May, 2002. It returned to the small screen after a 13 year hiatus through the work of the original creator, Chris Carter, and the original cast.

It started as a cult hit then morphed into a cultural phenomenon. The government conspiracy theories of the show's mythology hit a cord in the public, and spawned other science-fiction series and "alien" speculative shows that congregate today on the History Channel.

So I wanted to believe that the show re-boot could be well made. However, I did not have high expectations because the show leveled out and then faded away with answers to most of the big questions that the show runners had posed early on in the series.

By the end of the series it was revealed that a stealth group of men, The Syndicate, acted as the  liaison between mankind and a group of extraterrestrials that intends to destroy the human species. They were usually represented by "The Smoking Man," a ruthless killer, masterful politician, negotiator and the series' principal antagonist. As the series went along, Mulder and Scully learn about evidence of the alien invasion piece by piece. It is revealed that the extraterrestrials plan on using a sentient virus, known as the "black oil,"  to infect mankind and turn the population of the world into a slave race. The Syndicate—having made a deal to be spared by the aliens—have been working to develop an alien-human hybrid that will be able to withstand the effects of the black oil.

In between that main story arc, FBI agents Mulder and Scully went on paranormal and monster investigations of strange cases. Scully, a physician, was skeptical at first but slowly turned as she started to not being able to explain away conflicting scientific evidence. It was the chemistry between the two main characters that made the original show very good.

But in the re-boot premiere, there was no real chemistry between the main actors. David Duchovny went on monotone rapid fire speeches and Gillian Anderson looked tired and wooden in her performance. The only believable actor was John McHale's protrayal of a conservative conspiracy nut who has made a personal fortune out of poking a stick at government shadows. It is through McHale's character's television show connections that Mulder resurfaces from his apparent Unibomber retirement existence, while Scully is working with surgeons at a hospital who correct rare birth defects in children.

Part of the problem of the premiere was the forced writing to bring a new audience up to speed with the 9 years of past episodes between the main characters. It did not work.

The main reason Mulder and Scully are re-united in a new investigation is to meet a young woman named Sveta, who claims to have fragmented memories of having her fetuses stolen from her during her alleged alien abductions. She hints that Mulder had interviewed her and her family before, but may not have believed her. If she does possess alien DNA, Mulder asks Scully to run a DNA test.

 Later, McHale's character, O'Malley,  takes Mulder to a secret location where human aircraft built from alien technology is being housed by the next generation of the Lone Gunmen, but with much more resources and capital. Mulder is amazed by the alien spacecraft replica that runs on "free" energy and can disappear/teleport. We are led to believe that this is what the bad guys are after.

During her medical examination, Sveta makes several observations which allude to Scully's strained relationship with Mulder, making her uncomfortable. She remarked at one point that it was very difficult for her to contact Mulder, who appears to be living underground in some state of echo paranoia.  There is a throw-a-way line from Sveta that infers that Mulder and Scully had a child. When the test results on Sveta's blood come back, Scully orders it re-examined but we don't know why. Later, Scully herself takes a blood test to check herself.

Because of what O'Malley has shown him, Mulder comes to believe that he and Scully had been misled all along during their original career with the X-Files. Mulder's suspicions are confirmed when he with the old doctor from the Roswell crash site. Mulder tells him that he believes that alien technology was used on people and made to look like aliens had done so. He also outlines a global conspiracy involving hoarding and testing alien technology to prepare for an attack on America. The old man tells him he is close to the truth.

Following these revelations, Mulder begins to doubt his belief that aliens are the primary force behind the global conspiracy against humanity, but is instead a group of violent ultra-fascists armed with alien technology attempting to subvert democracy and assume power over the United States and then the Earth. He rattles off a list of government intrusions into America's private lives, liberty and constitutional rights since 9/11 (all done for "national security") plus the "distraction" of many different wars across the globe.

However, at a meeting Scully lies to Mulder and Sveta about the DNA test results. She states that she found no alien DNA. This puts a major hole in the hole conspiracy evidence chain. It unravels Mulder's entire theory.

Before O'Malley can go public with his claims, there is a counter strike: O'Malley's website is shut down, Sveta goes on TV to tell the world that O'Malley is a liar and a fraud, the replica space ship and scientists are killed by men dressed in military uniforms, and a UFO stops then destroys Sveta's car, seemingly with her inside. Mulder and Scully meet in a dark parking garage and Scully reveals that she has alien DNA, just like the girl O'Malley introduced to them. Mulder states that she is the key to exposing the testing and those responsible.

The episode ends revealing the Smoking Man, cancer having taken his throat,  alive in the present day, stating that the FBI unit, the X-Files,  has been re-opened to apparently re-start an investigation into his sinister group.

It is okay to manipulate and twist the main character into doubting his old past into a new conspiracy direction, but the premiere did it too swiftly and awkwardly to make us truly want to care about what is about to happen. By turning the original premise that aliens were coming to Earth to set the stage for a global invasion and world enslavement on its ear may not sit well to original fans by now claiming that the aliens are not the enemy but a band of human Illuminati taking alien technology to rule the world.

For the first part of the premiere, it was underwhelming. The second part of the premiere needs to bring back the action and clever writing between the main characters or the short series will turn into a very bad relationship counseling session between two old, tired and uninteresting main characters.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


One of the props and themes of LOST was the mirror. Characters would look into a mirror to contemplate a decision or change. The main characters personal issues seem to mirror each other.

But what is a mirror? 

A mirror is a reflective surface, now typically of glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image. It also means something regarded as accurately representing something else: the stage is supposed to be the mirror of life. In Computing, it is a site on a network that stores some or all of the contents from another site.As a verb, mirror means to show a reflection something such the clear water mirrored the sky.
It also means to correspond to, such as gradations of educational attainment that mirror differences in social background.

The origin of the word "mirror" is Middle English: from Old French mirour, based on Latin mirare ‘look at.’ Early senses also included ‘a crystal used in magic’ and ‘a person deserving imitation.’

And the early sense may be the basis for the plots of LOST.  Ben told Locke that the island was "a magic box," and if wished hard enough, he would get his wish granted. In Locke's case, his wish was to confront his devious father, Cooper, for one last time. In that situation, Cooper said that he was driving along then he was run off the road in an accident - - - and suddenly wound up as a prisoner on the island. Cooper clearly believed he had died and gone to hell.

Sideways Jack once looked into a mirror and saw unfamiliar scars, scars from his childhood or injuries from the island plane crash. That could have meant that Jack was looking at his future self, or that Jack was looking through a portal to another universe. 

The main characters in the sideways world would frequently confronted themselves in mirrors or reflective surfaces. According to Jack Bender, executor producer and director of LOST, these scenes showed the characters figuratively and literally "confronting their images and the reflections of themselves." The visual metaphor expressed the flash sideways' theme of introspection, and also represented how the flash sideways showed "what you wish for or what you're scared of."

That may be a too simple, too vague explanation of this device.

And it does not explain why the series added a second dimension of the sideways world into the main story line.

The various fan theories on mirrors from lostpedia are:

Deja Vu

  • The mirror moments correspond to characters' brief *remembrance* of their lives on the island, before some major shift causes the alternate timeline to take over their lives and cause fairly complete amnesia. The reflective gaze is especially apt to triggers these memories, though it need not be the only way a character experiences deja vu.
    • This seems to be supported by Jack's behavior. He notices an inexplicable bruise on his neck at LAX airport and later suffers similar confusion over his appendectomy (albeit via direct body inspection, not mirror use).

Parallel "Bleed Through"

  • The moments when alt-timeline characters observe themselves in mirrors represent the effect of a bleed-through with the simultaneously occurring main time line.

Mirror as Window into Different Timeline

  • Gazing through a mirror, either on the Island Lighthouse  or within the alt-timeline, provides a means of seeing into the other timeline.  Jacob uses the mirror to gaze into many different possible outcomes, past, future, and within the flash-sideways. Characters in the flash-sideways gazing or reacting emotionally to a mirror are subliminal accessing a different chronology/reality.
 But coupled with the other evidence that the frozen donkey wheel was a time-space portal, the link between the mirror (magic) and the two different worlds (island, sideways-after life) leads to different universes theory.

Many scientists believe that there are multiple parallel universes that exist simultaneous in the same space. Think of it like your car radio - - - each separate station is a different universe but in the same space of your vehicle. Just like when a storm or electric power lines cause radio interference, two stations may blur today on the sound speakers. This overlap may be what was happening at certain points in the LOST story lines. Mainland Jack was seeing images of Island Jack; Sideways Jack was seeing images of Island Jack. But each Jack was a different "person" in a different "universe." That would explain the major differences in Jack's personal life: in the Mainland, he had been married without a child to Sarah; but in the Sideways world he had been married to Juliet and he had a son. "Jack" never reconciled the differences in his personal life between the Mainland and the Sideways realities. Maybe, he did not need to. Perhaps his "death" in the portal island world collapsed his various separate lives into one universe - - - the sideways one. 

That would explain why Juliet suddenly fell for a complete stranger, Sawyer, with only a glancing touch. Their island universe experience suddenly rushed into their sideways world and overwhelmed their sideways past experiences.

Three different universes. Three different Jacks, Juliets, Sawyers, etc. Their lives seem to collapse into one time line like the matter at the event horizon of a black hole.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


There is a Japanese legend that states that if you cannot fall asleep it means that you are awake in another person's dream.

How interesting.

LOST had several key trigger words or concepts: awakening, dreams, alternative reality, changes in time and space.

But what is a better representation of an alternate reality or change in time and space than dreams?

Even another person's dreams that affects you.

It is not that the person who cannot sleep knows about, or controls the other person's dream. It is probably the exact opposite. When one tosses aimlessly trying to get to sleep, you are restless and not in a dream state. It is like the actual dreamer has pulled the mechanism for your dreams, your subconscious REM dream state, from you to power their vivid imagination with your appearance, words, character and personality.

Would this be a dream thief in action?  No, because they are not "your" dreams since you are still awake.

The idea that a heavy, deep thinking dreamer can attach their mental thought waves to other people to harvest and extract "better" more lucid dreams is a fascinating collision of philosophy and science fiction.

Through the series, we rarely saw any of the main characters actually sleeping. They were constantly on the move, in day light and at night. And over time, they did look tired. Their mental faculties were low. (How many times did we complain that the characters failed to ask basic questions to people coming back from a mission?) The island characters were the ones who were sleep deprived for a reason.

It still could be associated with a Dharma experiment on weaponizing dreams for the military. Or it could be that the stress levels and electromagnetic properties of the island interfered with anyone getting REM sleep (the biological basic need to rest and recharge one's internal batteries). Prolonged non-sleep can make people forgetful, irritable, and psychotic.  

But what does the original legend mean?

It may be a philosophical means to explain how being awake can be expressed on different levels of reality. Being in another persons dream for example can simply mean that person has interest in you or it can actually be a theoretical idea that you exist many different places at once.

In LOST, we presume that the main characters were in two different places (island world and the sideways plain of existence) at the same time. The sideways people could not "remember" their island pasts until "they were awakened."  Since the sideways world was the after life, it could be equated that the main characters were "restless ghosts" who could not come to terms with their pasts. 

Or it could mean that in each person, we have many people: we have our biologic human form that is transfixed to this planet. We may also have a spiritual form which rests inside our body, but it can be released into a different plain of existence. Perhaps, people whose "soul" has left their living body are suddenly defenseless against the temptations and evil urges that plague mankind. 

In the sideways world, the characters did not reunite with their bodies. Their souls "remembered" their past - - - their island past and their friendships, the missing pieces in their lives.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016


There are some stories that deserve a happy ending. But there are some stories where characters do not require one.

I was troubled by this season of Doctor Who. The showrunner was keen on giving two companion characters major send-offs. It was one of those "they deserved their moment in the limelight." But it does dilute the main character's role as a super-intelligent, time traveling alien who always viewed himself as above the more primitive human race.

Part of the problem was that after the Doctor's current companion, Clara, died because she tried to be as clever as the Doctor himself. That was a pretty solid finish for a character that really did not take a back seat in her last season. She did not play the secondary damsel in distress role; she was a co-worker in solving problems. But the show brought her back in a weird Time Lord trope of pulling her back a second before her death so she could further humanize the Doctor. I don't think that worked at all especially since Clara is no longer dead, and running around with another immortal in their very own time machine.

Then for the annual Christmas special, the Indiana Jonesian character, River Song, had her grand send-off. Again, this plot seemed too forced and out of character. The Doctor has always been cast as a loner who always needed an innocent human companion to balance his potentially unchecked desire to create chaos and destruction. To have one last caper is one thing; but to push the tangential story line that the Doctor and River Song were timelessly in love (even through a re-generation) further weakened the Doctor's character.

 Did Clara and River Song require a happy ending? No. It would have been more powerful if they had bad or heroic endings since that would have been key points in the Doctor's future decision making process (wrestling with guilt, shame, loss).

This same type of forced happy ending put a sour taste in many fans. The final season was a mess of character show reel type plots. One example was the back story episode for Alpert. The only thing that episode did was add evidence that the island was not purgatory, but Hell.

LOST could have ended well at the end of Season 5. Yes, there would have been many loose ends not tied up - - - but that was said when the series finally concluded in the sideways church and then some more plot issues. Was the sideways post-death limbo just a device to force a happy ending for Jack? It would appear so, but it was not executed well because once Jack awakened, he did not seem very happy. More confused than happy.

Other characters, such as Ben, got a happier conclusion than they really deserved. Ben was an alleged mass murdering, abusive psychopath who really did not pay any penalty for his sins. Was that all immaterial when Ben got to choose to stay in the sideways existence to find his missing family life with Rousseau and Alex?

Kate was very happy to see Jack once she awakened from her island slumber. But that happiness was contrary to the reality of their past relationship. In the O6 world, Kate's relationship with Jack soured quickly. On the island, Kate chose Sawyer over Jack. When Jack was in the depths of alcohol/drug depression, Kate turned his back on him. And when Jack was injured on the island, Kate did not stay by his side but instead left the island with Sawyer. It made no sense for Kate to come back in the after life to be Jack's main love interest, his soul mate.

But then again, in the final scene two characters in the church apparently had no happy ending: Locke and Boone. They had no one special with them to share the next level of existence. Both died in the island time frame in brutal and senseless deaths. And in the subsequent story lines, they were not truly mourned by their friends. Was it enough just to have these two loners be a part of a larger group?

Fans probably like the idea of happy endings because they had invested so much time and thought into their favorite characters. But sometimes forced happy endings are the worst thing a show can do.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


One of the main themes of life is finding and securing happiness.

But in the quest for happiness, something usually has to give.

In LOST, various main characters were searching for happiness, but most never found it.

For example, Rose and Bernard met late in life. It was a godsend for Bernard. Rose was his world. Until she got cancer. He panicked and tried to find any cure. That led to a strain in their relationship. Rose was a realist. Bernard was an optimistic dreamer. But for Bernard to secure his happiness with Rose, they both had to "die" in a plane crash. That was the only "cure" for Rose's cancer was that she became a spiritual being on the island.

For example, Jack's sole mission in his life was to get the acknowledgement of his skills from his father. As a result, Jack was never happy. He had no friends. He was obsessed with pleasing his father, and getting out of his father's shadow, that it caused him to be paranoid and obsessive in his relationships. His first marriage failed because of an alleged jealousy between his wife and his father. And his relationship in O6 arc with Kate fell a part as well. In order for Jack to be happy, he had to do the opposite. He had to control things. He had to have the final say. He had to be right.

And then there were characters like Locke who spent their entire lives trying to find happiness, but stumbled through it as a fool. His bitterness of being abandoned as a child clouded all of his life choices. It ruined his relationship with the one woman who cared about him and his disabilities. The only way Locke found any sliver of contentment was when he "died" and was reunited with his island friends.

Sociologists have studied this apparent personal paradox. Happiness is something we assume we want, but in reality, we sometimes give it up in exchange for comfort. Unfortunately, we’re often comfortable with not getting what we want, so resign ourselves to that fate. As researchers stated:
Though happiness is of course what we all fundamentally want, for many of us, it isn’t really what we isn’t what we’ve come to expect. It doesn’t feel like home...Getting what we want can make us feel unbearably risky...Self sabotage may leave us sad, but at least safely, blessedly, in control. It can be useful to keep the concept of self sabotage in mind when interpreting our and others’ odder behavior.
Beyond that, next time you’re weighing a decision and thinking about the risk involved, it might help to consider the role of comfort and control.

The concept of self-sabotage fits Locke to a tee. It also fits in Jack's grinding personality flaws of being an unloved, control freak. It also connects Kate's selfishness with her self-destructive behavior when she constantly tries to escape responsibility for her life's decisions. 

Was Jack really happy in the end? I don't think so. Being a martyr and dying in the bamboo field was unnecessary. And when he went to the sideways church reunion, he was more in his own catatonic state than being in a state of happiness. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Winning is hard. If you are playing the U.S. lottery, even harder. As Lifehacker explains:

The odds of having a jackpot winning ticket for the current Powerball is about 1 in 292 million. Just to emphasize how small of a chance that is, you’re looking at around 0.000000003% of buying a single winning ticket. You have a better chance of finding the last of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. Mainly because they’re fictional and nobody would care if you said you found one, so you might as well spend the $2 on a Wonka bar and eat some chocolate.

If the odds are so small, though, why do so many people play? We like to daydream of a better life, it’s super easy to buy a ticket and play, and somewhere deep down we all know that someone has to win and it could be me. If you want to buy a ticket for fun, there’s nothing wrong with that, but spending more than a few dollars on tickets isn’t worth it. Mathematically speaking, the only way to increase your odds of winning Powerball is to buy more tickets, but that doesn’t mean you should.Unless you’re willing to throw down outrageous amounts of cash, your odds hardly increase at all. 

Buying 10 extra lottery tickets only increases your odds from 1 in 292 million to, well, 11 in 292 million, which is still astronomically small.

Of course, if you were determined to earn some kind of prize and “win” the lottery, there are ways to do that. Based on the numbers from a previous high-prize Powerball in 2013, Business Insider explained that it’s possible to guarantee a “win” with some math. If you buy somewhere between 200 and 300 different lottery tickets, you’re all but guaranteed to end up with at least one cash prize. Then again, the non-jackpot cash prizes range anywhere from the most common $4 prize all the way up to the extremely rare $1,000,000 prize. So you could buy 300 Powerball tickets and guarantee a “win,” but that prize could be a measly $4. If you really wanted to cross “winning the lottery” off of your bucket list, a better approach is to buy 35 tickets that each have a different Powerball number. You’ll be guaranteed a $4 win, but be down $66. 

Even if you were already incredibly wealthy, you couldn’t even game the system to win the jackpot. You would have to buy every single one of the over 292 million different number combinations. That would cost you around $584 million and—even with this epic jackpot of $1.5 billion—would still put you in the hole. You would only get about $886 million if you took the lump sum payout (which most people do), and you would have to pay 39.6% of that in federal taxes. That leaves you with around $624 million. But that is even a myth because one would have not enough time to purchase all the required tickets.

 Furthermore, if you were crazy enough (and rich enough) to do that, you better hope you’re the only one trying because it would be possible that you would have to split the winnings if someone else tried use the same strategy, or worse, a dumb luck shmuck who waged only two bucks.

If you want to experience how remarkably small your odds of winning are first hand (and without losing any money), try this Powerball simulator from the Los Angeles Times to see how truly bad your chances are. If you’re still not convinced, financial experts state that you are around 1,488,095 times more likely to die in a car wreck on the way to the gas station to buy the lottery ticket than actually win the jackpot.

To guarantee a cash prize,  you have to buy the 300 or so tickets. At $2 a ticket, you’ll be spending $600. If you don’t live close to somewhere that sells Powerball tickets, you should consider your travel time and fuel consumption as well. Some folks drive for hours to buy tickets, and that makes buying tickets cost even more.
If, for example, you were thinking about driving a few hours to buy $600 worth of Powerball tickets, you could be spending closer to $700 or $800 (plus the potential opportunity cost). As Kiplinger newsletter stated,  you are far better off in the long run putting that $700 toward paying off credit card debt or student loans, increasing your 401(k) contributions, starting a savings account, or investing in an index fund that all but guarantee an actual return on the money you spent.

However, occasionally paying a dollar to daydream about being a millionaire is harmless fun. You’re probably not going to win, but if you go in with the right mindset, buying a lottery ticket can give you a nice little morale boost for the day. Plus, portions of the money people spend on lottery tickets usually goes to something beneficial for your state like education or parks, so you don’t have to feel too bad for playing unless you are in a state like Illinois which has failed to pay its lottery winners over $600 for months due to a budget stalemate.

Monday, January 11, 2016


There were many ruthless characters on LOST. Ben was the hard driving, psychopath leader of the Others. In some ways, Sawyer was ruthless in his life mission of revenge. Also, Kate was ruthless in how she used other people to maintain her criminal freedom.

But what do ruthless people have in common? What drives them?  A recent article on explores that issue.

When we think of success, we often picture rather brutal characters who will happily trample over others’ feelings in the pursuit of fame and fortune. Psychologists have recently identified three traits that might describe the most ruthless people. They are:

-        Machiavellianism: characterised by cynical manipulation
-        Narcissism: how self-centred you are
-        Psychopathy: a combination of risky impulsivity and callousness

Occasionally, all three corners of this “dark triad” converge in a single person, who is vain, scheming, and unfeeling, but sometimes you can score highly in one characteristic but not the other.

Previous evidence had suggested that psychopathy is slightly more common among high-flying CEOs than the general population. The idea was that ruthless and risky behavior was demanded in the top office. But it was unclear how the other kinds of dark personalities fare in the workplace.

The 'dark triad' of personalities: Machiavellian, psychopathic and narcissistic (Credit: Thinkstock)
Daniel Spurk at the University of Bern in Switzerland has now attempted to answer these questions with a comprehensive study that compares all three of the traits of 800 German employees from all kinds of industries. Using an online survey, he asked them to rate statements such as “I lack remorse” or “I like others to pay attention to me” and also quizzed them about their careers to date.

Dr. Spurk's published results were surprising.Spurk found that the psychopaths in his sample actually performed worse on his measures of success: they earned less than their peers and tended to have lowlier positions on the career hierarchy. As you might expect, given these findings, they were also less satisfied with their lot.

Spurk thinks it could be down to their aggression and risk-taking. “Psychopaths are really impulsive – they have real problems with controlling behavior.” Although their willingness to take risks could be a boon in some industries, their impulsiveness may mean that they are less productive in the long run, skiving off work as the mood takes them. The determining factor, Spurk thinks, may be intelligence: a smarter psychopath might be able to temper some of those excesses, allowing them to win out in the long game.
People with manipulative tendencies did tend to rise to leadership positions, but they weren’t the highest earners
Machiavellianism was more strongly associated with success – people with these manipulative tendencies did tend to rise to leadership positions; you don’t have to be Don Draper to realise that pragmatically pulling other’s levers will put you in a position of power. But it was the narcissists who earned the most money, overall. This may be because their sense of self-worth makes them better negotiators, helping them to swing more benefits.

“Individuals high in narcissism have good impression management, so they can convince their colleagues or supervisors that they are worth special advantages,” Spurk says. Or as Gordon Gekko put it, there’s the belief that “What's worth doing is worth doing for money.”
Narcissists may seem charismatic to begin with, but they can become wearing with their constant need for attention
But before you consider cultivating a darker streak to further your career, Spurk points out that these people may lose out in other ways. Narcissists may seem charismatic to begin with, but they can become wearing with their constant need for attention. “Although people who don’t know them very well think they are charismatic, in the mid-to-long term there might be situations where people are no longer fascinated by their behavior.” So even though they may be earning more money, they might suffer socially. And Machiavellian manipulators may come undone if their particularly ruthless or dishonest machinations are exposed.

If that’s not enough to persuade you, there is now an abundance of evidence showing that kindness may not make you money but it pays in other ways: more generous and honest individuals tend to have happier lives and better physical health.So steely ambition will help get you so far in life, but it alone can’t take the place real talent. 

As in LOST, the ruthless characters came across the most lonely. You may be driven to succeed at the highest levels, but it can be lonely at the top. Besides, there will be others lurking in the shadows, without a job – or a friend.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Engadget reports that the LOST finale got its added 18 minutes demanded by the showrunners when it first aired got . . . . lost in transmission.

Any fan rewatching LOST on Netflix got bent out of shape once again because Netflix ran a version missing 18 minutes of the original finale.  

That got the attention of creator Damon Lindelof, who told EW, "love it or hate it, the finale that aired is the definitive finale and to alter it in any way defies explanation." 

However, he quickly added that it was likely a simple error, and recalled that ABC-TV had created a cut-down version for syndication.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Robert Hare is a researcher in criminal psychology, and this is officially the "golden standard" for assessing psychopathy.

There are 20 items in the PCL-R checklist. Scoring for each item:

- 0 if it does not apply at all
- 1 if there is a partial match or mixed  information
- 2 if there is a reasonably good match to the offender.

Try to be honest, and add them up to get your score.

Out of a maximum score of 40, the cut-off for the label of psychopathy is 30 in the United States and 25 in the United Kingdom.A cut-off score of 25 is also sometimes used for research purposes.

Psychopathy Checklist-Revised: Factors, Facets, and Items

Factor 1
Facet 1: Interpersonal

  • Glibness/superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • Pathological lying
  • Cunning/manipulative
Facet 2: Affective
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Emotionally shallow
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor 2
Facet 3: Lifestyle
  • Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsivity
  • Irresponsibility
Facet 4: Antisocial
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Early behavioral problems
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Revocation of conditional release
  • Criminal versatility

Other items
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior

The Macdonald triad (also known as the triad of sociopathy or the homicidal triad) is a set of three behavioral characteristics that has been suggested, if all three or any combination of two, are present together, to be predictive of or associated with later violent tendencies, particularly with relation to serial offenses

- Did you use to be cruel to animals when you were young?
- Did you use to wet your bed frequently and past a certain age?
- Did you use to set fires?

 Do you do any of these professions?
  1. CEO
  2. Lawyer
  3. Media (TV/Radio)
  4. Salesperson
  5. Surgeon
  6. Journalist
  7. Police Officer
  8. Clergyperson
  9. Chef
  10. Civil Servant
Then there is a higher chance you are psychopathic.

Do you do any of these professions?
  1. Care Aide
  2. Nurse
  3. Therapist
  4. Craftsperson
  5. Beautician/Stylist
  6. Charity Worker
  7. Teacher
  8. Creative Artist
  9. Doctor
  10. Accountant
Then there is a lower chance that are psychopathic.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


How many times in your adult life have you cursed younger you? “Dammit, why didn’t you start working out earlier?” Or, "What was I thinking before I started (this course of behavior)?" 

Many bad habits occur because you and your future self aren’t very close. If you want to improve those habits, get closer with that future you.
As news site Vox explains, ongoing research into how the human brain perceives long-term habits found that the more you view your future self as you, the more likely you are to engage in better habits. However, many of us actually view our future selves as strangers. Literally. If you have poor long-term habits, your brain exhibits the same activity when thinking about your future self as it does when it thinks about a completely different person:
Researchers have confirmed this with brain imaging. When people are in an fMRI scanner, their rostral anterior cingulate cortex brain region — which usually shows a high level of activity when people think about themselves — quiets down when people are told to think about themselves in 10 years. In fact, our brain activity when thinking about our future selves looks surprisingly similar to what happens when participants are asked to think about other people altogether.
So, what’s the solution? Start by thinking about your self in the long-term, regardless of your habits. You don’t have to start with a savings plan or a workout regimen. Just start thinking about how you connect to your own future.

Anne Wilson, a psychologist at Wilfrid Laurier University, suggests using a time line.  By drawing out current events in your life and connecting them to events in the near future (like deadlines, or events), she found that students were more likely to feel connected to their future selves, and thus make better decisions. However you choose to make the connection, though, the more you can think of your future self as the same person you are, the easier it will be to internally justify being helpful to them.