Monday, February 27, 2012

Hawaii and West Virginia, if you must know

Oh jeez. A new survey, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, has ranked the 50 states in order of happiness. Out of a possible 100, the happiest state scored 70.2 while the most miserable got a lowly 62.3. Not even an 8 percent spread, four points plus or minus. This may be statistically meaningless, especially since you're actually measuring how the regional culture feels about complaining. North Dakota came in second, telling me that folks in that state will say anything to keep you on the phone. Still, it's a way to fill up airtime and column inches. And rants. Those too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to the grind

Sandstone is a kind of stone that's made up of sand. Hence the term sandstone. The sand, of course, is simply tiny bits of what used to be larger rocks. It's goofy, like matzo balls. Because, why bake crackers of flour and water and crumble them up to make dumplings when you could simply make dumplings from the flour in the first place? It's just the universe keeping itself busy, is all. It would be nice to think that we are the larval stage of something better. I can find no evidence, however, to suggest that this might be true.

Monday, February 13, 2012

When your number's up

I have a cousin who had one of his ears bitten off by a horse. Even if he was the only one-eared man in the world, this would shift the arithmetic mean; the average person worldwide has slightly fewer than two ears. So in at least one sense, the vast majority of us can take pride in being above average. Then there's this: Somebody went to the trouble to figure out that the total weight of the entire human species is well over 400 billion kilograms, roughly one trillion pounds. Of course, a lot of that is fat and gristle.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'll get back to you with a quote.

Fitzgerald's Law states there are no second acts in American life; that's probably why the parking lot empties out after intermission. But Wolfe's Theorem says you can't go home again, which makes me wonder where everyone goes. Off somewhere making the scene, since the world's a stage and we're all merely players. Then some people say it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Which may be true, but the only way to play the game well is to really, truly, desperately want to win. Most philosophy professors refer to this as Lombardi's Paradox.