Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How common is Job?

Job was remarkably unlucky.

He was either the victim of serial disasters through random chance, or a pawn in an obscure debate between Lucifer and Yahweh.

Unfortunate either way.

Kind of like me with tech ware. Which is why tomorrow I'll try to figure out why my backup drive has no data on it. (I'm bringing my MacBook into the office. It's relatively trustworthy.)

My tech misfortunes are nuisance rather than tragedy, but they make me wonder how many modern Jobs are out there.

Let us assume that, in middle age, one encounters a reasonable tragedy, such as the loss of a loved one or a major disability about once a year. Less often in a wealthy nation like ours, more often in, say, Haiti. Average, say, 1 week in 50 if we distribute over enough people.

So how many people on earth can we expect to have an uncorrelated tragedy (discounts plagues, etc) once a week for the next 5 weeks in a row?

The answer is (1/50**5) * 8,000,000,000 or 25 people. Over the course of a year the number of people experiencing this is much higher of course (alas, my combinatorial knowledge is too old to calculate this without some study).

There must be a few people, over the course of a lifetime, who will encounter up to 10 uncorrelated tragedies over a 10 week interval. Beyond Job.

It's a big world.

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