Everybody Counts. Well, at Least They Used to.

Child: But I’ll never use this stupid math as long as I live!

Parent: Of course you will, I use complicated math every day.

Child: [waiting patiently for example]. . . Then why do I –

Parent: Because I said so that’s why!

And just like that, discussion over. The because-I-said-so trump card comes down and all other answers no longer matter. No explanation and no proof. Trump cards are great that way. No more discussion, argument, or measuring who has the better persuasion. Game over.

Last week, the Indiana Supreme Court helped us answer this question of longstanding parental rhetorical brinksmanship, but it didn’t involve trump cards:

Q: So, what exactly can I do to with math when I grow up?

A: Here’s what you can’t do. You can’t count cards in Indiana Casinos.

This was arguably the only really interesting thing ever done with math, and now it’s gone. That sound you hear is the flicker of interest that your children may have in mathematics being snuffed out. As a kid, when I first found out that some people actually make a living playing blackjack, I though it was a bona fide superpower — like X-Ray vision.

Nobody loses the mortgage playing Uno.In Thomas P. Donovan v. Grant Victoria Casino & Resort, L.P, decided on September 30, 2010, the Indiana Supreme Court said that Donovan could be kicked out of a casino for counting cards. There is a long-standing common law right of a business to refuse service to anyone, but the Court of Appeals had agreed with Donovan, who argued that casinos are so heavily regulated that they shouldn’t refuse anybody.

In part, this argument likens casinos to utility companies that are given geographic pseudo-monopolies. Casinos are given an unencumbered license that protects them from most forms of competition. That degree of license comes with much regulation both of the operation of a casino and of the game of blackjack in particular, and should, the argument follows, prohibit exclusion of any individual.

But the Supreme Court was not convinced. It found that the law that regulated casinos was not designed to replace the common law right to exclude a patron from a business. So much for superpowers.