Hurricane Rerun: The Sackler Laws (Part 2 1/2)

Here is part two of the rerun which began on Monday.  If the northeast USA has been washed away by the time you read this, consider it my last will and testament.  If not, brace yourself for something new by the weekend.

The Laws of Kid and Canine Chaos

Having kids is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.”–Alan Bleasdale

Part B: The Equation of Kid Chaos.  As the number of kids in any household or otherwise confined environment increases, the chaos generated by said kids increases logarithmically.

As we saw in Part A of this law, The Equation of Canine Chaos, dog generated insanity increases exponentially as dog population increases.  With kids it is infinitely more complex; so we see:

Heaven help us! (even if we are not pious)

When n=1 then Ck=1, but when n>1 then Ck=10n-1

So…n is the number of kids present in a given environment, and Ck is the potential kid-generated chaos in that environment.   In plain English?  The potential chaos increases by an order of magnitude with each kid added!  In other words—for the mathematically challenged among you—two kids may be 10 times as chaotic as one; three may be 100 times as chaotic; four, 1000 times, and so on.

But the increase in analytical complexity here is far greater than the math.  For dogs, the equation is for actual chaos and is a good average.  For kids, it is only for potential chaos, and is somewhere between an approximation and a wild guess.  For one thing, the interactions between children are so complex that they quickly become incalculable.  A good metaphor for this is Newton’s laws of gravity when applied to orbital mechanics of celestial objects: the interaction between two of them is precisely calculable, but as soon as you add even one more the math becomes intractable.

This does not even bring into the equation the question of other variables, such as age, upbringing, setting and proximity to bedtime.  Setting is particularly important.  For example, put 20 nine-year-olds in a catechism class taught by an angry nun wielding a ruler, and the chaos will appear so infinitesimal even the CERN supercollider would be hard pressed to detect it.  Now put the same twenty kids in an unsupervised free swim in a public pool, and you’ll pin the needle on the Richter scale.

But wait, it gets worse!  Dog chaos is pretty obviously measured by noise and activity; but with kids that doesn’t completely tell the tale.   Even when they are quiet there is no telling what’s going on in their little crania.  Take, for example, those twenty tykes in the catechism class.  They may appear behaved now, but what they are plotting to do to that nun when class gets out makes Lord of the Flies look like a sitcom.

This brings us to the most perplexing problem of all: putting multiple kids and dogs together and attempting to calculate what will happen.  It is not unlike trying to unify relativity and quantum mechanics into a single theory of quantum gravity.   In discussing this with my cousin Marion, I asserted that she could not imagine what the equation would look like.  Her sly reply was that she could not even imagine what the room would look like!  Not being one to back off from a challenge, I found this image which fairly represents what both the resulting math and the domicile will look like.

The Equation of Combined Kid AND Canine Chaos

With that,  have a great holiday week and brace yourself for more.


  1. If you are still there, I love it and identify with it! My kids are grown and i think that is why I think I’ve gone deaf, it’s so quiet around here!

  2. My kid is long gone and this post explains why we only had one. But quiet? Forget about it. Did you read the previous post on canine chaos? We have four so you can do the math. As for being still here, unless this is a ghost writing this reply, I am. But I’m writing from a diner that has wifi two miles from my dark and cold house. I expect power wont return to us before the weekend.

  3. yeah, the math for “logarithmic increase” would mean that the increase from 0-1 is the greatest (from -infinite to 0) – what you describe is exponential, the exact opposite.

  4. Hi Mark, please please let us know asap if you survived Sandy! Seen the pics on our news in South Africa. Horrifying to see the devastation wreaked by her.

    • Yep. I am fine. Our house is seven miles inland and about 100meters above sea level. There’s is no flooding anywhere near us. There are trees down by the hundreds and we did sustain minor damage to a fence on the edge of our property. The main problem is the extensive power outages. I am using my iPad to write this and my iPhone as a hot spot to send it. I am guessing it may be a few more days before we get power back. Fortunately nearby commercial districts have power so we can get supplies and food. Thanks for asking. I will update on here when our power returns.

  5. Love how you humanize math. The equation reminds me of what’s-his-name in A Beautiful Mind trying to make a logarithm for the movements of pigeons.

    Glad you survived the storm.

    • John Nash won a Nobel prize in economics. I satirize awards, I don’t win them. And my bio-pic, in the extraordinarily unlikely event there ever is one, will be called “A Cluttered Mind.” (OK, maybe “A Demented Mind,” but you get the idea) 😛

  6. Sometimes it the smaller/shorter things that capture one’s attention. In other words, I love the quote!!

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