Brief Discursus on Luck

I’m told that good Christians don’t believe in luck. I am not a good Christian. But I am one, and I do believe in luck. In fact, misunderstanding luck may lead to illogical reasoning and illogical behavior.

Luck is simply this: the improbable becoming actuality. The modifiers “good” & “bad” are not absolute, but do express the degree to which the now-actual was previously improbable.

I heard a lady on TV the other day talking about getting mugged/robbed/assaulted while shopping in a grocery store. She ended her interview with a TV-made quip: “You know, you think you’re safe when you’re shopping for groceries, but now I know you’re not.”

This is what happens when you don’t understand luck. You say, and believe, stupid paranoid shit like this. Local news, of course, feeds off confusing people over the probable vs. improbable. The correct conclusion is, “Damn, it was extremely unlucky for me to get clubbed in the noggin while shopping for oatmeal.” 

Likewise, it’s really bad luck when you’re flying over the Hudson River and a pterodactylesque pigeon flies into the jet engine of the airplane you’re riding on, but it’s mildly good luck that you and your compadres escape this pigeon-induced disaster with nary a scratch.  The wrong conclusion is, “Pigeons are a menace to society that must be annihilated”/”Commercial airplanes are an extremely unsafe way to travel.”

This post dedicated, with affection, to Alice in Chains.

Fate Means Eyeadhoo

From “My Children Explain the Big Issues” by Will Baker:

I first explained to Cole that there was no advantage in dumping the sand from his sandbox onto the patio. He would have more fun bulldozing and trucking inside the two-by-twelve frame. Heavy-equipment guys stayed within the boundaries, part of their job, and the sand would be no good scattered abroad, would get mixed with dead beetles and cat poop.

Next I warned him firmly not to shovel out his patrimony, warned him twice. The third time I physically removed him from the box and underscored my point very emphatically. At this stage, he was in danger of losing important privileges. Reasonable tolerance had aldready been shown him and there was no further room for negotiation. There was a line in the sand. Did he understand the gravity of the situation? Between whimpers, he nodded.

The last time I lifted him by his ear, held his contorted face close to mine, and posed a furious question to him: “Why? Why are you doing this?”

Shaking all over with sobs of deep grief, he tried to answer.
“Eyeadhoo, eyeadhoo!”
One more second, grinding my teeth, and the translation came to me. I had to. I had to.