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Time way in: 100,000 views!

“I sincerely believe blogging can save America.”– John Jay Hooker

Uh, I don’t think so.  Not only is blogging not saving America, but social media might actually be destroying it.   And promoting my blog on social media?  We won’t even discuss that.  But what I will discuss–and pound my chest about–is that just a few weeks after Millennium Conjecture’s 4th anniversary, it has passed the 100,000 hit mark.  Wow.  I know you didn’t see that coming, and I sure as hell didn’t.  And I’m willing to bet that not more than 97,000 of those views have come from immediate family and close friends.  After all, how many close friends and family do you think I could have?

In honor of this hallowed event,  here a is blast from the past.  It was by far my most viewed post.  Thanks to being “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress,  this post brought in over 1700 views and garnered 230 blogger “likes” on September 23, 2012–exactly four months to the day after my inaugural post.    And yes, it has been all downhill since then.

Anyway, thanks for all the views and likes–and if you are really a masochist, check out my new blog on futurist topics, Seeking Delphi™

 

Equations of Everyday Life #2: Inane Celebrity Memes

“You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you”–Jay Leno 

(Jay Leno graduated from Emerson College the same year I did.  Aren’t you unimpressed?)

Lindsay Lohan…Paris Hilton…Charlie Sheen…you just gotta follow these people to be “with it” in this day and age.  What I can’t figure out is exactly what “it” is. The nonsense involving these silly (do I dare say ridiculous?) excuses for humanity, and the speed with which their inane meme virality propagates throughout the internet and general mediasphere is stultifying.

 How do we quantify this vacuous tripe?  Quite obviously with:

The Index of Inane Celebrity Meme Virality

Get out your calculators folks, though the math on this one may require something more like a Cray supercomputer.   This process requires not one step, but three.

  1. Rate the inanity
  2. Compute the Virality Index
  3. Classify the virality using the Virality Classification Scale

Rating Inanity

This part is for those of you who—like many politicians—prefer fuzzy math.  In order to compute the virality of an inane celebrity meme, you first need to give it an inanity rating.  This, however, does not compute.  You need to estimate it by a process that could be seen as similar to the way we old folks were taught to compute square roots in days before electronic calculators.  You sort of have to zero in on it—surround it, using  a combination of whatever logic or intuition works for you.

Using a scale of 0 to 1.0, we rate the inanity based on how unusual, how cable newsworthy and, of course, how inane it appears to be.  Using the Lindsay Lohan example, let’s rate some real and imagined events.

Lindsay Lohan gets up in the morning and brushes her teeth (or not).  Probable rating=0  (probable rating because, again, there is some subjectivity here).

Lindsay Lohan gets busted for another probation violation.  Approximate rating=0.5 (This is fairly commonplace but due to media culpability still maintains some newsworthiness.  Also, the specific story behind the arrest may result in some adjustment up or down; the next item demonstrates this.)

Charlie Sheen stubs his toe on the curb of 34th Street in NYC, stumbles into oncoming traffic causing Lindsay Lohan to swerve her speeding Porsche through a display window at Macy’s, decapitating several mannequins, skidding across the retail floor and then crashing through a sidewall into a back room where she runs over Paris Hilton who was in the act of giving her boyfriend a you-know-what.  Absolute rating of 1.0.  This theory does not permit a rating higher than 1.0, but we’ll give this one a 1.0 with a star, meaning it also generates spontaneous orgasms in Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and every Fox News and CNN anchor past, present and future.  (Note that while coverage on Comedy Central will actually lampoon the coverage by the other networks, this will add even greater fuel to the viral fire than serious reporting).

Computing the Virality Index

Here comes the fun.

ξ = Φ(F+T)(µ-110)

Symbol key

ξ =Virality Index I chose that squiggly symbol because I think it looks like Kate Middleton mooning the paparazzi.

Φ =Inanity rating Aren’t those Greek thingies cool? This one is iota, as in “I don’t give one iota of a hoot about these nitwits”.

F= number of “friends” or “likes” on celebrity’s Facebook page

T= number of Twitter followers of the celebrity There is a reason they call it TWITter.

µ =the median IQ of the set whose members are F+T. For the uninitiated µ is the scientific symbol for micro.  How appropriate. (Can’t you just imagine those two sentences being uttered by Dr. Sheldon Cooper?)

To sum it up:

The virality index is the inanity rating multiplied by the combined number of Twitter and Facebook followers multiplied by what I call the vacuity index (median IQ of all followers minus 110).

Classify the Virality

For any chance at virality, the final Index number MUST be negative.  This works perfectly fine for most of the personalities discussed above.  If we are talking about Stephen Hawking, however, there is a better chance of finding virality in the singularity at the center of a black hole.

The classifications of virality are as follows

If ξ ≤  -100,000  minimally contagious

If ξ ≤  -500,000  highly contagious

If ξ ≤  -1 million  immutably viral

If ξ ≤  -10 million globally pandemic

If ξ ≤  -100 million worthy of hours of uninterrupted coverage on CNN and FOX News.

Still to be determined is the threshold at which Geraldo Rivera coverage kicks in.

So if we compute the Charlie Sheen meme virality index for the automobile accident scenario hypothesized above,  we multiply the inanity index of 1 times the combined number of his Twitter and Facebook followers (roughly 10.5 million, don’t worry about being exact, this is fuzzy math) times the vacuity index. We will estimate the latter for Sheehan as (100-110)= -10.  This may be generous but 100, after all, is the definition of median IQ.  This yields a score of -105 million.  If you compute and add to this the scores for Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who were also involved in the scuffle,  the Index plunges much lower.  The New York Post would be sure to issue a special edition.

This leaves one unanswered question, however.  We now know how to compute the manner in which these viral memes are turned on.  But what determines how they are turned off?  As you would expect, I have the answer which I call the medialogical constant.  I will discuss this in the next Equations of Everyday Life post, which may or may not be published within your lifetime.

Images credit: Meme Center   All text in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

 

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Equations of Everyday Life #2: Inane Celebrity Memes

Summer rerun of a WordPress.com “Freshly Pressed” post.   New content coming soon.

“You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you”–Jay Leno 

(Jay Leno graduated from Emerson College the same year I did.  Aren’t you unimpressed?)

Lindsay Lohan…Paris Hilton…Charlie Sheen…you just gotta follow these people to be “with it” in this day and age.  What I can’t figure out is exactly what “it” is. The nonsense involving these silly (do I dare say ridiculous?) excuses for humanity, and the speed with which their inane meme virality propagates throughout the internet and general mediasphere is stultifying.

 How do we quantify this vacuous tripe?  Quite obviously with:

The Index of Inane Celebrity Meme Virality

Get out your calculators folks, though the math on this one may require something more like a Cray supercomputer.   This process requires not one step, but three.

  1. Rate the inanity
  2. Compute the Virality Index
  3. Classify the virality using the Virality Classification Scale

Rating Inanity

This part is for those of you who—like many politicians—prefer fuzzy math.  In order to compute the virality of an inane celebrity meme, you first need to give it an inanity rating.  This, however, does not compute.  You need to estimate it by a process that could be seen as similar to the way we old folks were taught to compute square roots in days before electronic calculators.  You sort of have to zero in on it—surround it, using  a combination of whatever logic or intuition works for you.

Using a scale of 0 to 1.0, we rate the inanity based on how unusual, how cable newsworthy and, of course, how inane it appears to be.  Using the Lindsay Lohan example, let’s rate some real and imagined events.

Lindsay Lohan gets up in the morning and brushes her teeth (or not).  Probable rating=0  (probable rating because, again, there is some subjectivity here).

Lindsay Lohan gets busted for another probation violation.  Approximate rating=0.5 (This is fairly commonplace but due to media culpability still maintains some newsworthiness.  Also, the specific story behind the arrest may result in some adjustment up or down; the next item demonstrates this.)

Charlie Sheen stubs his toe on the curb of 34th Street in NYC, stumbles into oncoming traffic causing Lindsay Lohan to swerve her speeding Porsche through a display window at Macy’s, decapitating several mannequins, skidding across the retail floor and then crashing through a sidewall into a back room where she runs over Paris Hilton who was in the act of giving her boyfriend a you-know-what.  Absolute rating of 1.0.  This theory does not permit a rating higher than 1.0, but we’ll give this one a 1.0 with a star, meaning it also generates spontaneous orgasms in Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and every Fox News and CNN anchor past, present and future.  (Note that while coverage on Comedy Central will actually lampoon the coverage by the other networks, this will add even greater fuel to the viral fire than serious reporting).

Computing the Virality Index

Here comes the fun.

ξ = Φ(F+T)(µ-110)

Symbol key

ξ =Virality Index I chose that squiggly symbol because I think it looks like Kate Middleton mooning the paparazzi.

Φ =Inanity rating Aren’t those Greek thingies cool? This one is iota, as in “I don’t give one iota of a hoot about these nitwits”.

F= number of “friends” or “likes” on celebrity’s Facebook page

T= number of Twitter followers of the celebrity There is a reason they call it TWITter.

µ =the median IQ of the set whose members are F+T. For the uninitiated µ is the scientific symbol for micro.  How appropriate. (Can’t you just imagine those two sentences being uttered by Dr. Sheldon Cooper?)

To sum it up:

The virality index is the inanity rating multiplied by the combined number of Twitter and Facebook followers multiplied by what I call the vacuity index (median IQ of all followers minus 110).

Classify the Virality

For any chance at virality, the final Index number MUST be negative.  This works perfectly fine for most of the personalities discussed above.  If we are talking about Stephen Hawking, however, there is a better chance of finding virality in the singularity at the center of a black hole.

The classifications of virality are as follows

If ξ ≤  -100,000  minimally contagious

If ξ ≤  -500,000  highly contagious

If ξ ≤  -1 million  immutably viral

If ξ ≤  -10 million globally pandemic

If ξ ≤  -100 million worthy of hours of uninterrupted coverage on CNN and FOX News.

Still to be determined is the threshold at which Geraldo Rivera coverage kicks in.

So if we compute the Charlie Sheen meme virality index for the automobile accident scenario hypothesized above,  we multiply the inanity index of 1 times the combined number of his Twitter and Facebook followers (roughly 10.5 million, don’t worry about being exact, this is fuzzy math) times the vacuity index. We will estimate the latter for Sheehan as (100-110)= -10.  This may be generous but 100, after all, is the definition of median IQ.  This yields a score of -105 million.  If you compute and add to this the scores for Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who were also involved in the scuffle,  the Index plunges much lower.  The New York Post would be sure to issue a special edition.

This leaves one unanswered question, however.  We now know how to compute the manner in which these viral memes are turned on.  But what determines how they are turned off?  As you would expect, I have the answer which I call the medialogical constant.  I will discuss this in the next Equations of Everyday Life post, which may or may not be published within your lifetime.

Images credit: Meme Center   All other material in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

 

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Equations of Everday Life #1.1: Smartphone Distraction Update

“What’s the killer app?  Making a phone call.”–Steve Jobs

“I only have dummy phones.”–Don Rickles

With the announcement of the new iPhone models 5S and 5C its time to revisit, with slight modification, the original post of this series.  Appropriately enough, I now use an app on my iPhone for tracking my bicycle treks.  So now I have distracted cycling to go along with distracted everything else.  To paraphrase Don Rickles, we only have dummies with phones.  Present company?  No comment.  For the original version of this post, click here.

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THE ALGORITHM OF SMART PHONE DISTRACTION

Don’t be deceived.  It is far more complicated than it looks.   Where attention to the outside world in the absence of a smart phone (Aa)equals 1, then attention to the outside world in the presence of a smartphone (As) is approximately equal to the inverse of the number of cool apps on said smartphone (n) times the I-Phone or equivalent model number (m).    Yes, approximately equal to—because nothing is that precise in the quantum mechanical world of electronics, and anyway I like using that smart looking squiggly thingy over the equal sign.   Taking the example of my own I-Phone 4, I have 14 apps I would describe as being “cool.”  As 14 x 4 is 56, then when I am packing my phone, my attention level to the outside world is an astonishingly small 1/56th of normal.  This is dangerous.  As I’m reputed to be a major space shot to begin with,  I should probably be banned from breathing and texting at the same time.   But that calculation can wait for another day, as even the basics get much more complicated.

Siri

What will happen if I upgrade to the new I-Phone 5s and add the pernicious feature known as Siri?

It gets ugly in a hurry.  The equation now looks like this:

NEW SIRI

Yikes!  We now have to square the denominator and in the personal example stated above, my attention level would be 1/702of my normally spaced out self.  This computes to 1/4900.

I don’t know if the Planck length applies to this,  but a few more apps and new models and my attention level will certainly approach it.  Also note that the “s” on the right side of the equation stands for Siri and has no numerical value.  It just makes the equation appear more complex and disguises my general ignorance of advanced mathematics. Anyway, this demonstrates why I don’t yet have Siri.  If I did, I would have proposed to her long ago and been off to Vegas for a quickie divorce from my wife by now.  Ah, for the days when the internet was still in black and white.

Endnote:  The addition of the new model 5C creates a conundrum.  How should we calculate for that, and for that matter, what’s the difference? Well, C apparently stands for cheap, and that’s as in construction, not price.   Any suggestions how to compute that?

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Cosmic Quote #25

“Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player.  It’s staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in.”–Casey Stengel

If the ‘ol professor Stengel was right–and who am I to argue with him–one can surmise that Alex Rodriguez and his .132 post season batting average have spent the last three Octobers in the Bronx pulling all-nighters.**  I guess it pays off, as in getting Cameron Diaz to feed you popcorn at the Super Bowl (see video).  On the other hand, Derek Jeter seems to have a much better batting average than his controversial teammate, both with runners in scoring position and with women in scoring position.   He seems to performs well, both on the field and with the ladies, at all times.  Yet according to one article that appeared on the net couple of years ago, he was just 6 for 100 during the previous season.  That is, he has dated 6 of Maxim Magazine’s hottest 100 women in the world.  That’s a batting average most guys would  love to have.  Eat your heart out, A-Rod.  Thanks to my friend Dave Carlson at The Blog of Funny Names for the nifty work of art below.

Jeter meme**I quantify A-Rod’s futility in clutch situations in the next Equations of Everyday life, now in post production.

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Summer Rerun: Equations of Everyday Life #2, Inane Celebrity Memes

“I enjoy watching reruns of Saturday Night Live and counting all the dead people.”–George Carlin

Hey, I need that!

Hey, I need that!

Ah, summer.  I’m not actually on vacation, but my neurons are.  Here then, forthwith, is a rebroadcast of my post that was Freshly Pressed on WordPress last September.  I’m still getting Google hits on this one, though we might have to call it Slightly Stale Pressed now.

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September 23, 2012

“You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you”–Jay Leno 

(Jay Leno graduated from Emerson College the same year I did.  Aren’t you unimpressed?)

Lindsay Lohan…Paris Hilton…Charlie Sheen…you just gotta follow these people to be “with it” in this day and age.  What I can’t figure out is exactly what “it” is. The nonsense involving these silly (do I dare say ridiculous?) excuses for humanity, and the speed with which their inane meme virality propagates throughout the internet and general mediasphere is stultifying.

 How do we quantify this vacuous tripe?  Quite obviously with:

The Index of Inane Celebrity Meme Virality

Get out your calculators folks, though the math on this one may require something more like a Cray supercomputer.   This process requires not one step, but three.

  1. Rate the inanity
  2. Compute the Virality Index
  3. Classify the virality using the Virality Classification Scale

Rating Inanity

This part is for those of you who—like many politicians—prefer fuzzy math.  In order to compute the virality of an inane celebrity meme, you first need to give it an inanity rating.  This, however, does not compute.  You need to estimate it by a process that could be seen as similar to the way we old folks were taught to compute square roots in days before electronic calculators.  You sort of have to zero in on it—surround it, using  a combination of whatever logic or intuition works for you.

Using a scale of 0 to 1.0, we rate the inanity based on how unusual, how cable newsworthy and, of course, how inane it appears to be.  Using the Lindsay Lohan example, let’s rate some real and imagined events.

Lindsay Lohan gets up in the morning and brushes her teeth (or not).  Probable rating=0  (probable rating because, again, there is some subjectivity here).

Lindsay Lohan gets busted for another probation violation.  Approximate rating=0.5 (This is fairly commonplace but due to media culpability still maintains some newsworthiness.  Also, the specific story behind the arrest may result in some adjustment up or down; the next item demonstrates this.)

Charlie Sheen stubs his toe on the curb of 34th Street in NYC, stumbles into oncoming traffic causing Lindsay Lohan to swerve her speeding Porsche through a display window at Macy’s, decapitating several mannequins, skidding across the retail floor and then crashing through a sidewall into a back room where she runs over Paris Hilton who was in the act of giving her boyfriend a you-know-what.  Absolute rating of 1.0.  This theory does not permit a rating higher than 1.0, but we’ll give this one a 1.0 with a star, meaning it also generates spontaneous orgasms in Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and every Fox News and CNN anchor past, present and future.  (Note that while coverage on Comedy Central will actually lampoon the coverage by the other networks, this will add even greater fuel to the viral fire than serious reporting).

Computing the Virality Index

Here comes the fun.

ξ = Φ(F+T)(µ-110)

Symbol key

ξ =Virality Index I chose that squiggly symbol because I think it looks like Kate Middleton mooning the paparazzi.

Φ =Inanity rating Aren’t those Greek thingies cool? This one is iota, as in “I don’t give one iota of a hoot about these nitwits”.

F= number of “friends” or “likes” on celebrity’s Facebook page

T= number of Twitter followers of the celebrity There is a reason they call it TWITter.

µ =the median IQ of the set whose members are F+T. For the uninitiated µ is the scientific symbol for micro.  How appropriate. (Can’t you just imagine those two sentences being uttered by Dr. Sheldon Cooper?)

To sum it up:

The virality index is the inanity rating multiplied by the combined number of Twitter and Facebook followers multiplied by what I call the vacuity index (median IQ of all followers minus 110).

Classify the Virality

For any chance at virality, the final Index number MUST be negative.  This works perfectly fine for most of the personalities discussed above.  If we are talking about Stephen Hawking, however, there is a better chance of finding virality in the singularity at the center of a black hole.

The classifications of virality are as follows

If ξ ≤  -100,000  minimally contagious

If ξ ≤  -500,000  highly contagious

If ξ ≤  -1 million  immutably viral

If ξ ≤  -10 million globally pandemic

If ξ ≤  -100 million worthy of hours of uninterrupted coverage on CNN and FOX News.

Still to be determined is the threshold at which Geraldo Rivera coverage kicks in.

So if we compute the Charlie Sheen meme virality index for the automobile accident scenario hypothesized above,  we multiply the inanity index of 1 times the combined number of his Twitter and Facebook followers (roughly 10.5 million, don’t worry about being exact, this is fuzzy math) times the vacuity index. We will estimate the latter for Sheehan as (100-110)= -10.  This may be generous but 100, after all, is the definition of median IQ.  This yields a score of -105 million.  If you compute and add to this the scores for Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who were also involved in the scuffle,  the Index plunges much lower.  The New York Post would be sure to issue a special edition.

This leaves one unanswered question, however.  We now know how to compute the manner in which these viral memes are turned on.  But what determines how they are turned off?  As you would expect, I have the answer which I call the medialogical constant.  I will discuss this in the next Equations of Everyday Life post, which may or may not be published within your lifetime.

Images credit: Meme Center   All other material in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

 

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Equations of Everyday Life#3–Media Attention Span (Part Two: The Big Bust Theory)

According to my calculations [the universe] didn’t start with a “Big Bang” at all—it was more of “Phhbwt.”–Dilbert (Scott Adams)

This kind of bust? Well...maybe....

This kind of bust? Well…maybe….

In the stirring first episode of this equation, we saw how the attention paid by the media to inane celebrity stories erodes naturally over time through a process I dubbed The Media-illogical Constant.   But like many scientific theories, it is more complicated than it appears on paper.     It seems that this equation works well in a comparative media vacuum, free from the interference of new, bigger and even more outrageous celebrity stories. And though a story may also, in the absence of said later distraction,  sustain itself through the generation of new angles, it can still disappear in an instant.  When a  bigger celebrity story comes along and wipes clean the public attention-span slate, the previous prime meme is sucked into a media black hole.  It succumbs to The Big Bust Theory. I may not be able to quantify this occurrence; but I can certainly give a primordial example.

It  was 1994 and  two key dates in that year represent the ground zero points for the archetypal media big bust.

The Tonya Harding Fiasco

On January 6, 1994 a man named Shane Stant swung a lead pipe at figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, causing sufficient injury to Kerrigan that she was forced to withdraw from the US championships.  In and of itself, this would have kept the cable news and sports channels going for weeks on end, but it was only the beginning.   Within a few days, the dastardly deed was traced back to associates of one Tonya Harding, who just happened to be Kerrigan’s main rival at the competition.  The frenzy was on. All throughout the spring and summer the story took more twists and turns than a Dickens novel.  (You can read the entire timeline here).  The name Tonya Harding was on every front page and every evening news lead.  On and on into the the spring and early summer, it reached the point that many–yours truly included–wished she and her story would just go away.

Be careful what you wish for.

The Big Bust: June 17 1994

oj-simpson-mshot-700217Just when you thought there would be no end to the Harding nonsense–no “return to normalcy” to quote another famous American named Harding–the story imploded.  On  June 17, 1994 cable news channels broadcast, live and in living color,  an event so momentous that it interrupted the broadcast of the NBA finals.  It was the pursuit by the LAPD of O.J. Simpson. (Case timeline here.)

Poof. The Tonya Harding story was gone from the front pages and evening news leads, never to return to such prominence again.

As for trying to create and algorithm that describes this phenomenon, it has so far escaped me.  In the same manner that the laws of physics seem to break down in the singularity at the center of a black hole, all measures of media (and public) vacuity in the face of these kinds of events defy calculation.  The equations yield infinities.  If you have any ideas, feel free to post them here.  But have no fear, this scenario has given me yet another idea.  It’s clear that two of the biggest media attractors going are inane celebrity antics and sensational crimes.  When the two combine, as they did in both the OJ Simpson and Tonya Harding cases, the effect just screams for its own equation…and this might ultimately yield the mathematical solution to The Big Bust Theory.

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Equations of Everyday Life#3: Media Attention Span (Part One: The Media–illogical Constant)

“It was my biggest blunder.”–Albert Einstein on his cosmological constant concept.

You have to love ‘ol Albert.  It’s not that he admitted he was wrong.  It’s that he turned out to be wrong about being wrong. In other words, the cosmological constant turned out not to be such a big blunder after all.  He thought that there must be a force in the universe that counteracts gravity and prevents a static universe from contracting on itself.  In 1917 he dubbed it the cosmological constant.  Then came Hubble’s discovery in the 1920’s that the universe is expanding, which was closely followed by the big bang theory (the actual theory, not the TV show), and out the window went Einstein’s constant.   But then, in 1998, it was discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and–bingo!–the cosmological constant, now referred to as dark energy, was reborn.

So what the hell does this have to do with the current equation?  It’s also a constant, and it might turn out that it is as slippery and elusive as dark energy.  The difference though, is that this one describes contraction, not expansion; more specifically, the contraction of media attention over time as pertains to inane celebrity behavior.  I call it:

The Media-illogical Constant

If you’ve had any physics education, you’ve certainly heard of the inverse square law.  It applies to any number of physical properties, gravity, light, radio waves, sound or the attention level of undergraduates to a lecture in a large hall.  Simply stated, as one travels away from the source, the intensity of the force or signal decreases by the inverse of the distance squared.  A similar equation can describe the rate at which our tabloid-minded western media lose interest in stupid celebrity hijinks.  The equation is the same as the inverse square law with one modification:  just substitute time for distance.    Quite simply, it looks like this: 
inverse squareIn plain English:  the intensity of the media attention is proportionate to the inverse of the time since the story’s emergence to national (or international) attention, squared.  So when Lindsay Lohan gets arrested–yet again–the media attention four days after the story will be 1/16th of what it was when the story broke.  [Are you are wondering why this equation just doesn’t use an equal sign instead of a proportional to sign? It beats me.  But one immutable rule of these posts is to always use the coolest looking symbol possible.]
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There are, of course, caveats–aren’t there always?  This theoretical pronouncement exactly works, if, and only if, there is no significant obstruction or interference from other media events, whether or not they involve inane celebrities.  This is the same as applies to physical properties measured with the inverse square law.    Place a brick wall between the light source and your measuring device and all bets are off.  Likewise,  a bigger story may come along and completely drown out whatever Lady Gaga has been up to lately.   I have a name for this phenomenon and resulting calculations–pretty cheeky of me since I haven’t even invented it yet.  I call it The Big Bust Theory.   Depending on the stories involved, this may or may not be a double entendre.  Either way, part two of this post will deal with that equation.  It’s coming soon to a blogoshere near you.
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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.

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Hurricane Rerun: The Sackler Laws (Part 2)

By the time you read this, hurricane Sandy will be pounding the northeast US.  I’m not one to let that stop me; this post has been pre-scheduled.  For those of you who have come late to this blog–or who need a reminder as to what inspired Equations of Everyday Life–here is the first part of two reruns.  If I don’t post something new within a week, send out a search party.

The Laws of Kid and Canine Chaos

“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things.” –Buddha

Part A, the equation of canine chaos: As the number of dogs in any household, or otherwise confined environment increases, the chaos generated by said dogs increases exponentially.

The math on this one is easy and so is the logic. Let’s start with an easy equation:

Cd=D2

Simply stated, where Cd equals canine chaos and D equals the number of dogs present, then canine chaos equals the number dogs present squared. So two dogs equals four times the chaos, three dogs equals nine times the chaos, four dogs 16 times, and so on.

As for the logic, that’s also easy. Assuming that dogs are a pack animal, then each chaotic activity started by one, will be joined in by the others. This includes, but is not limited to, barking, fighting, knocking over the trash, attacking the mailman, biting Aunt Millie, pooping in the hallway, stealing your lunch and whatever other crazy things canines do. So, if there are two dogs, it will happen twice as often and be twice as chaotic each time. If there are three dogs, it will happen three times as often and be three times as chaotic. You get the idea.

Disclaimer: this equation is an average. Obviously, geriatric dogs will create less chaos and puppies are off the chart crazy. The breed of dog is a factor as well. (See figure X, schipperkes, and figure Y—as in “why?”—labs)

Figure X. Schipperke [Pronunciation: skip-it; origin: Dutch, meaning little s&$^%#–er, I mean, “little captain”] Noun: 1. a furry black dog of Belgian origin 2. trouble waiting to happen

Figure Y. As in, “why do people keep these things?” (attribution of photo unknown)

Take for example, our own pack of three (if you can believe that) schipperkes. They have the uncanny knack of lulling us into complete complacency. Then a chipmunk runs across the lawn and our former state of quietude is instantly transformed into the canine equivalent of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. I’m sure insanity is zoonotic. You get it from your pets.

We also need to consider that there are limits to the human capability to distinguish between degrees of canine chaos. At some point, the saturation point is reached, and the perceived chaos is effectively infinite. Beyond this, addition of more dogs to the environment cannot inflict any measurably higher degree of pain. These limits may vary with the individual. I, for instance, have lived with multiple dogs for years and therefor have a higher threshold of tolerance than the average person. On the other hand, my wife is a veterinarian and is effectively immune. Our dogs could stage World War III on top of her head in the middle of the night, and she would sleep through it. [NOTE: Part B, the Law of Kid Chaos, coming soon in a future post.]

Text in the post ©2012 Mark Sackler

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Equations of Everyday Life #2: Inane Celebrity Memes

“You’re not famous until my mother has heard of you”–Jay Leno 

(Jay Leno graduated from Emerson College the same year I did.  Aren’t you unimpressed?)

Lindsay Lohan…Paris Hilton…Charlie Sheen…you just gotta follow these people to be “with it” in this day and age.  What I can’t figure out is exactly what “it” is. The nonsense involving these silly (do I dare say ridiculous?) excuses for humanity, and the speed with which their inane meme virality propagates throughout the internet and general mediasphere is stultifying.

 How do we quantify this vacuous tripe?  Quite obviously with:

The Index of Inane Celebrity Meme Virality

Get out your calculators folks, though the math on this one may require something more like a Cray supercomputer.   This process requires not one step, but three.

  1. Rate the inanity
  2. Compute the Virality Index
  3. Classify the virality using the Virality Classification Scale

Rating Inanity

This part is for those of you who—like many politicians—prefer fuzzy math.  In order to compute the virality of an inane celebrity meme, you first need to give it an inanity rating.  This, however, does not compute.  You need to estimate it by a process that could be seen as similar to the way we old folks were taught to compute square roots in days before electronic calculators.  You sort of have to zero in on it—surround it, using  a combination of whatever logic or intuition works for you.

Using a scale of 0 to 1.0, we rate the inanity based on how unusual, how cable newsworthy and, of course, how inane it appears to be.  Using the Lindsay Lohan example, let’s rate some real and imagined events.

Lindsay Lohan gets up in the morning and brushes her teeth (or not).  Probable rating=0  (probable rating because, again, there is some subjectivity here).

Lindsay Lohan gets busted for another probation violation.  Approximate rating=0.5 (This is fairly commonplace but due to media culpability still maintains some newsworthiness.  Also, the specific story behind the arrest may result in some adjustment up or down; the next item demonstrates this.)

Charlie Sheen stubs his toe on the curb of 34th Street in NYC, stumbles into oncoming traffic causing Lindsay Lohan to swerve her speeding Porsche through a display window at Macy’s, decapitating several mannequins, skidding across the retail floor and then crashing through a sidewall into a back room where she runs over Paris Hilton who was in the act of giving her boyfriend a you-know-what.  Absolute rating of 1.0.  This theory does not permit a rating higher than 1.0, but we’ll give this one a 1.0 with a star, meaning it also generates spontaneous orgasms in Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and every Fox News and CNN anchor past, present and future.  (Note that while coverage on Comedy Central will actually lampoon the coverage by the other networks, this will add even greater fuel to the viral fire than serious reporting).

Computing the Virality Index

Here comes the fun.

ξ = Φ(F+T)(µ-110)

Symbol key

ξ =Virality Index I chose that squiggly symbol because I think it looks like Kate Middleton mooning the paparazzi.

Φ =Inanity rating Aren’t those Greek thingies cool? This one is iota, as in “I don’t give one iota of a hoot about these nitwits”.

F= number of “friends” or “likes” on celebrity’s Facebook page

T= number of Twitter followers of the celebrity There is a reason they call it TWITter.

µ =the median IQ of the set whose members are F+T. For the uninitiated µ is the scientific symbol for micro.  How appropriate. (Can’t you just imagine those two sentences being uttered by Dr. Sheldon Cooper?)

To sum it up:

The virality index is the inanity rating multiplied by the combined number of Twitter and Facebook followers multiplied by what I call the vacuity index (median IQ of all followers minus 110).

Classify the Virality

For any chance at virality, the final Index number MUST be negative.  This works perfectly fine for most of the personalities discussed above.  If we are talking about Stephen Hawking, however, there is a better chance of finding virality in the singularity at the center of a black hole.

The classifications of virality are as follows

If ξ ≤  -100,000  minimally contagious

If ξ ≤  -500,000  highly contagious

If ξ ≤  -1 million  immutably viral

If ξ ≤  -10 million globally pandemic

If ξ ≤  -100 million worthy of hours of uninterrupted coverage on CNN and FOX News.

Still to be determined is the threshold at which Geraldo Rivera coverage kicks in.

So if we compute the Charlie Sheen meme virality index for the automobile accident scenario hypothesized above,  we multiply the inanity index of 1 times the combined number of his Twitter and Facebook followers (roughly 10.5 million, don’t worry about being exact, this is fuzzy math) times the vacuity index. We will estimate the latter for Sheehan as (100-110)= -10.  This may be generous but 100, after all, is the definition of median IQ.  This yields a score of -105 million.  If you compute and add to this the scores for Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan who were also involved in the scuffle,  the Index plunges much lower.  The New York Post would be sure to issue a special edition.

This leaves one unanswered question, however.  We now know how to compute the manner in which these viral memes are turned on.  But what determines how they are turned off?  As you would expect, I have the answer which I call the medialogical constant.  I will discuss this in the next Equations of Everyday Life post, which may or may not be published within your lifetime.

Images credit: Meme Center   All other material in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

 

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