Look Back In Anger, Part Two

Look Back In Anger, Part Two

It’s a statistical plausibility!


Tracy: Are you going to make it to the party tonight?
Nate: Nope. Got work.
Tracy: Shit.

Tracy: You think we’ll ever make it out of that place?
Nate: Oh yeah, definitely.
Tracy: How?
Nate: The numbers.

Tracy: You… you don’t mean the fucking LOTTERY, do you?
Nate: No, it’s legit! Most people just do the quick pick and get randoms, but I play the same numbers every time. They’re bound to come up eventually.

(Tracy walks off)
Nate: I’m sorry you don’t see the genius!

Posted on December 1, 2010 at 12:00 am in Treading Ground. Follow responses to this post with the comments feed. You can leave a comment or trackback from your own site.

76 Responses

  1. codyblued says:


    Nate, wasn’t the brightest bulb…was he…?

  2. Sara E. says:

    I’m curious to see how Tracy and Nate hooked up in the first place.

  3. RotSman says:

    WHOA. She was even hotter back then!

  4. Thomas O. says:

    Heh… I do the same thing with the lottery here. I’ve been playing the same sets of numbers for almost two decades now. And I just know that once I stop playing Lotto, my numbers will be chosen in the very next drawing. At least it’s only a $4-a-week habit and that it helps fund public education. :/

    • Nick Wright says:

      That’s how I rationalized it too. Though I wasn’t even as smart as you and Nate about it… just hit the quick picks.

      • NobodySpecial says:

        I hate knowing this, but the vast majority of winners come off of quick picks.

      • AJ says:

        I specifically do quick picks only so that I never have to deal with an OCD need to play for fear that my numbers will be drawn the day I don’t.

      • Curator says:

        Ive only played the lotto once, and I won a little over $500, saved the money I originally spent on tickets, and spent the rest of the money buying 5 quick picks a week till it ran out… not so smart, but I still was better off than I started out…

      • Frank says:

        Our lottery corporation makes available on-line all of the winning numbers from a few of their lotteries since their inception, and even includes a search function to see if your numbers ever came up.

        I’ve memorized three series of six numbers for the last twenty-five years, but I rarely play them. And I’m glad I don’t. The gap between getting just four numbers out of six was on average TEN YEARS!

  5. Math Geek says:

    Assuming a pick-six with fifty white balls and a red powerball with possibly 25 choices, the odds are stacked against you unless even if bought 100,000 tickets for one drawing.

    Just saying, the odds never lie.

    • Neil says:

      But they are bound to come up eventually. Yes, statistically speaking, civilisation will probably have collapsed by then, but hey…

      By my reckoning, with no powerball the expected time to winning with 49 balls pick six and no powerball, drawing twice weekly (all correct for the UK National Lottery when I last played it) is about 134 millennia. :-D

    • bman says:

      How about these odds:

      1. The lottery takes in a certain amount of money from sale of tickets.

      2. About 45% (in many lotteries) is returned to the purchasers in the form of prizes.

      3. Depending on income, the government(s) get up to 33%, plus the local (State) cut. We are now down to (at worse) about 30% payout. Considering Nate works in a store, I suspect he will take home, say, 40%.

      4. The more tickets you purchase, the nearer to average payout you end up. So, for Nate’s $4.00 per week, over time, he should average about $1.60 in prizes.

  6. One Manic Ninja says:

    wtf — why is she so pissed about playing the lottery?!?!

    • NobodySpecial says:


      The lottery is a tax on poor and stupid people.


      How’s Nate gonna treat her to a six-pack of Keystone if he spends all the money on the Lotto?

      • One Manic Ninja says:

        oh I’m down with the tax idea… I just didn’t see how she’d be so vehemently angry at someone else wasting their money.

        odd juxtaposition: old-nate’s poor lotto-playing logic with the new-nate, the guy who’s the store’s bookkeeper.

      • bman says:

        I agree, NobodySpecial–if he took that $1 or $4 per week, or whatever, saved it, and eventually invested it, he’d have a better chance of actually making money over the next 40-50 years.

        • Curator says:

          that would be $192 a year if it was $4 a week… over 50 years, that would be $9,600, lets say he starts investing half way through though, at 25 years he has an extra $4,800 to invest, if he makes an average GOOD return on a safe investment of 2%, that would be $2,400 base line, if we round up, taking into consideration re-investment of all dividends, we arrive at a rough estimate of $13,000 over 50 years… (that is including the cash he saves by not buying the tickets to begin with and the dividends from investing it.)
          Thats not bad, but its not gonna do much, pay the bills in a really really really shitty studio apartment for seniors for maybe a year… assuming housing prices dont increase…

          Odds of winning the lotto EACH time you buy a ticket 1:195,249,053 as of 2009, over those 50 years, at 4 tickets a week, one will have purchased 9,600 tickets, making your raw chance of winning, 1:20,338.4.

          The minimum you can win in the powerball lotto jackpot, is 20 million, the biggest winning jackpot, lump sum payout, after taxes, was 177.2 million, if you win a jackpot = to the most ever payed out to a single ticket, you would be making 13,630.7 % more money, meaning, compared to your change of winning, you WOULD be better off investing…unless your one lucky bastard, or just really dont think 13 grand is going to make a big difference in your retirement…

          • Neil says:

            Why do you assume 48 weeks?

            • fezz says:

              he failed the beginning math a bit i presume he was thinking $4 a week x 4 weeks a month x 12 months a year and didn’t give a thought to there being 52 weeks a year :P

          • bman says:

            Why wait so long to invest? Once you’ve built up $200 (one year), start investing, say in an “Average” fund, like one that mirrors the Dow Jones Average.” He could also do slightly more risky investments, that return 4% over inflation, and get $26k. More, as he gets older, he should be able to afford more savings. Add a Christmas bonus, or half, and he could easily double or more what he puts in each year.

    • Weimann says:

      She’s not pissed about playing the lottery. She’s pissed about playing the lottery as a plan to fund their future life, which is totally justified.

      • RotSman says:

        Holy crap…the last dozen strips have basically been setting up the juxtaposition of Rose (bad girlfriend) and Tracy (decent girlfriend)?! Has the world gone topsy-turvy?!

  7. DiDi says:

    I mostly wanna know how they went to hating each other. Or rather, how Nate started hating Tracy…

    All very intriguing.

  8. N8 says:

    And now we see where the animosity between Nate and Tracy began.

    Knowing what was happening before it cut to Rose’s chat with Aya, I wonder if we’re gonna see how much willpower Nate has.

  9. Kobra says:

    Not quite shoure that is the entire reason they broke up. If it is though it seems rather weak.
    Whats with the comments below? Makes it sound like youre closing up shop, which i really hope you havn’t because I really like this comic.

  10. Will says:

    This is a prime example of the gamblers fallacy

  11. Ginger says:

    Don’t go to Vegas, Nate…they’ll bust your kneecaps. ;)

  12. iggy says:

    The sad thing is my parents actually DO that, they spend a Fortune trying to win a Fortune, tried convincing them how stupid it is but its like talking to Nate AND Rose at the same timne :S

  13. Hornet says:

    Wait , they’re both working at the same friggen place but she’s going to get pissy cause “he” doesn’t have a 5yr plan???

    Sorry but women threw away the depending on a man card, what 30 plus years ago.

  14. Tom NC says:

    The lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.

  15. Wes says:

    I plan to start playing the lottery sooner or later. I’ll get to it.

  16. Philosopher says:

    That doesn’t even make any sense. The odds don’t change – any given set of numbers, whether they are a quick pick or not, have the same probability of coming up. Each drawing is an independent event, not reliant on the results of previous drawings. You learn that much about probability in junior high…

    • Silent says:

      And yet, in every casino now, they have a board showing the last twenty numbers spun at every roulette wheel.

      The wheel has no memory and neither do the lotto balls. But people do. And unlike the wheel and the balls, they also have the ability to talk themselves into playing.

      • bman says:

        What’s interesting is that some gamblers talk themselves into playing the numbers that came up more, and others into the numbers that were not picked…

        • sm4ck says:

          heh. unfortunately not a correct application of conditional probability. but at least they feel as if they have a system/comfort blanket.

          • bman says:

            Were they rational, they wouldn’t gamble.

            If they wanted to get the maximal possible payout, they’d make one bet, the largest possible. Then, win or lose, walk away.

  17. Esquire says:

    I don’t know why, but Nate’s face reminds of of Les in this strip…

    I think its the facial hair.

  18. Kevink says:

    You know something, I have to be honest.

    Right now both Treading Ground and Questionable Content are both running “break up the main character” angles. Being a long time viewer of both webcomics. I have come to…a sort of ‘realization’. That realization being; I’m more concerned with whats going on here at Treading Ground much, much more. (like 100x)

    At no….NO time, none, zip, zero, zilch time (…yes we’re working in even zilch time here people) during the Dora and Martin break up did I feel anywhere close to the feelings I felt to when Nate and Rose did…(maybe its because Rose showed tits, or maybe its because I have a thing for redheads I don’t know, but I’m getting off track) frankly I’m more compelled to Treading Ground than the more main stream QC.

    At no time have I ever allowed “OH SNAP” to be uttered (very loudly I might add, during a free period, in my collage computer room) to QC….I can’t say the same about Treading Ground.

    Seeing Rose Quite Literally: trip fall and land on the douche bags dick is by far the most humorous and oddly compelling thing I have both read and witnessed in my entire life.

    I have to give ya props Nick Night Shyamalan, you’ve managed to twist a good plot. Keep it up mate and don’t let the haters get to ya.

    • Nick Wright says:

      Kevin, this made my day. Thank you!

      • Kevink says:

        No problem chief, just don’t fuck it up like M. Night Shyamalan and make a comic strip storyline about Aliens with a weakness to water who have to fight killer trees that make the Aliens try and kill themselves by jumping into kiddy pools….actually that does kinda sound cool. Have Les as the hero, and have him riding on a war hound with twin shotguns =p

        The faithful are behind you mate, glad I could make your day. =)

    • Gonna have to second this.
      All of this.

    • Sean says:

      While I agree that Rose’s actions were well-written (props to Nick for sticking with realism), I don’t know that comparing Dora and Marten’s breakup to Nate and Rose’s fiasco is a fair comparison. Jeph has been building the Dora-Marten breakup for quite a while now, and QC intentionally runs at an extremely slow slice-of-life pace. For one, I was quite frustrated/melancholy after reading the QC strip – because it’s depressing how Dora let her insecurity issues just screw things up. When I saw Rose banging douchebag, my reaction was something like “yep, it was bound to happen. Hope she learns…”

      I think both Nick and Jeph achieved exactly what they were going for.

  19. Chris says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Nate’s lottery strategy works. In a way, it’s like cutting a loaf of bread sideways, instead of vertically. Same bread, same chance of winning. Personally, I can honestly say I’ve found more money lying on the street and sidewalks than I have won in lottery tix. I haven’t bought one in about ten years.

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