I remember railroad tunnels along the coast and Monte Carlo, a small district of Monaco, in the distance. Monaco is the city-state that grew rich from a railroad and a casino. As I am writing this, last night was Halloween 2012. Max and I were discussing Pascal's Wager. Pascal, along with Fermat, is the guy who invented statistics by computing probabilities in gambling games, thus enabling future casinos, banks, and insurance companies to steal all our money. In his Pensées, Pascal argues that you have nothing to lose by believing in God, but everything to lose by not believing, assuming God does not like disbelievers. This argument makes sense if you only have two choices — yea or nay — but a little cultural anthropology teaches us that a zillion gods are out there demanding our belief. So which one do we bet on? And what is our probability of choosing correctly?

If you had cancer, would you prefer the treatment that gave you 1 in 2 chances of living, or the one that gave you 1 chance in 10? I read that our chances of being killed in a car are 1 in 5000, the same as dying from the flu in any one year; whereas our chances of being killed in a plane are 1 in 11,000,000, about twice as likely as dying from the flu vaccine, 1 in 22,000,000. Which mode of transport should we prefer? Should we get the flu shot or not? Should I buy a lottery ticket at the grocery, and help the ignorant educate the ignorant, or stop off in Monte Carlo to put a dollar on the green? Notice that, as the possibilities increase, my chances decrease. Picking the one true god among an infinity of gods is zero. Saying it with symbols, 1/∞ = 0. Belief is no guarantee of heaven.

Moreover, belief may prevent you from entering. Whichever, believing always interferes with knowing. Some of us may prefer knowing something before we act, but most of us prefer to shoot first based upon our beliefs in the flimsiest evidence. But having no beliefs means inactivity, for how do we choose to enact our act without an assumption? William James wrote all about how belief is measured by action in his Will to Believe. This is all very confusing. Let's flip a coin and move on in our somewhat inebriated state...

Thumbed past Monaco next door to Nice and entered Italia without a passport stamp. Nice ⇒ Monaco ⇒ Sanremo ⇒ Impéria ⇒ Albenga ⇒ Savona ⇒ Genova ...


Two American ex-GIs gave me a ride out of Genova on their way north to Switzerland. Goodbye, Columbus...Ciaou! I bought them a bottle of vino for the lift, which they returned when they let me off in Milano, plus they gave me an extra bottle of the stuff with a hole in it. The wine in both bottles was too sweet for them, but not for me. Ciaou! After an immemorial dinner with a leaky bottle of Bianco, I slept well in a motel under construction, not quite the NH Hotel to be built in the vicinity 30 years later with that leaning tower motif thingy. Did I dream I was cameriere at the Last Supper?