Category Archives: geek logik

How Much Has Being in Lockdown Aged Your Relationship?

A year ago, the world went crazy with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the concept of a lockdown.

Covid Couple at Home - Chris Greene via Unsplash

Originally pitched as a 15-day solution to "slow the spread" of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections by "flattening" the epidemic curve, government-imposed lockdowns became an ongoing fact of life for many around the world. Worse, they became the go-to policy for many public officials who used them to cover their inability to adapt to the pandemic's demands, week after week after week. At this writing, parts of the world are still going into COVID lockdowns, some for the third or fourth time since the start of the pandemic.

For couples, these lockdowns has meant spending a lot more time together than would have otherwise happened in a world without the coronavirus pandemic. Having their places of work closed by lockdowns forced many couples to work from home if they could. At the same time, the lockdown stay-at-home orders prevented them from visiting others or having guests. The end result is much more "together time" than anyone would have imagined before the pandemic.

But how much more time is that? And how does that compare to a year of time couples would have spent together in the pre-COVID world?

Questions like these led BBC presenter and Cambridge doctoral maths candidate Bobby Seagull to develop a formula to quantify how much more perceived together time couples have accumulated as a result of the lockdowns.

We've taken the math and built the tool below to do it, using data collected from a survey of 2,000 couples conducted by Groupon earlier this year as the default data. Substitute your own numbers as you might like to see how your relationship has relatively aged!

If you're accessing this tool on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version. We'll have more comments below the tool....

Basic Investment Information
Input DataValues
Pre-pandemic average number of hours cohabiting couples spent together per year
Boredom Factor
Hours spent together as a couple during an average week (excluding weekends) during the pandemic
Number of weeks working from home together since the pandemic began
Hours spent together as a couple on an average weekend during the pandemic
Number of weekends since the pandemic began

How Much Has Being in Lockdown Aged Your Relationship?
Calculated ResultsValues
Lockdown "Dog Years" (How Much Older Your Relationship Seems)

Most of the data input items are very straightforward, but one represents a subjective judgement. The "Boredom Factor" represents how the lack of options for entertainment or away-from-home social gathering contributes to making time spent with your partner seem like more time is passing than is really the case. Which is to say that often being bored 'ages' your relationship.

In the tool, we've opted to make that factor a "Yes" or "No" proposition, where if you feel you've experienced the boredom factor, selecting "Yes" will double the amount of additional time you have spent together outside of what would have been the case before being locked down.

If you select this factor, the final answer then is the 'perceived' amount of time your relationship has aged, as a multiple of the time you would have had together without the pandemic. Not selecting it will give you an estimate of the actual number of equivalent pre-pandemic years the additional time spent together you have accumulated in lockdown.

All in all, the result is a number that, for most, will be the equivalent of multiple years of time together as a couple. A result of one, on the other hand, would mean that your time in lockdown went about the same as it would have in a pre-lockdown world.

Either way, it's an interesting way to approach the question, which is why we took on the project!

Image credit: Photo by Chris Greene on Unsplash

How To Avoid A Tangled Mess

If you've ever had to deal with a pair of earphones after they've become tangled, you know exactly what kind of mess they can make and what kind of pain they can be to untangle. Is there anything you can do about it?

Before we go any further, let's draw some lessons from science for how cords can almost spontaneously become tangled from the following video:

Now, let's get to the practical matter of finding out how likely your cords will become tangled. In the following tool, we've adapted the math developed by Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith in their 2007 paper to calculate the probability that your cord/string/rope will become tangled, assuming that it is made of a medium-stiffness material, based upon its length. If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, click here to access a working version of this tool!

Cord Length and Measurement Units
Input DataValues
Will You Be Entering the Cord Length in Centimeters Or Inches?
How Long Is The Cord?

What Are The Odds Your Cord Will Become Tangled?
Calculated ResultsValues
Probability of Tangles

If your cord has a relatively low probability of becoming knotted or tangled, say below 5 or 10%, you might not need to worry much about taking any special measures to keep it that way.

But, if you want to avoid the hassles that come from your cords becoming tangled, you might consider the suggestions from the video, using shorter, stiffer cords (if feasible) or getting smaller containers to store your longer cords (if not).

Meanwhile, if you're looking to learn more about knot theory, and yes, there is such a thing in maths, here's a quick introduction:

References

Raymer, Dorian M. and Smith, Douglas E. Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string. PNAS. October 16, 2007 104 (42) 16432-16437; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0611320104. Note: For our tool, we corrected the L₀ parameter to be 1.025 after replicating the other parts of the authors' logistic function regression using the data presented in Figure 2, where our L₀ correction allowed us to replicate their reported probabilities for various cord lengths.



How Much Underwear Should You Pack on Vacation?

Public Domain Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash - https://unsplash.com/photos/Nl-SXO4FAHw?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText

From time to time, Political Calculations takes on the challenge of answering questions that other blogs avoid. Whether that's due to fear on their part, where a sensitive topic may be too far out of their comfort zone, or just because they cannot, we see such challenges as an opportunity.

So let's talk about how much underwear you need to pack while you're traveling away from home. Not long ago, Ashley McIntosh of Brisbane, Australia's 97.3 FM radio posted the solution to a problem that we ourselves never appreciated existed. We'll let her explain....

Are you guilty of packing three times as many pairs of underwear as you could possibly need when travelling.

*Raises hand*

Or even worse... Not packing enough!?

Well never fear, this nifty new math equation is here to the rescue ladies.

And it seems pretty thorough.

Vacation Underwear Math

Karina Judd recently shared on Facebook group Meme Queens her saving grace.

Not just that, but she has also created a public Google doc excel spreadsheet so the math is all done for you!

That's all well and good, but what if you're packing in a rush right before leaving on your trip because you've procrastinated too long and you can no longer afford to take the time to fire up your personal computer to run Karina Judd's spreadsheet to calculate how many pairs of underwear you should pack?

That's the kind of niche market that we seek to serve here at Political Calculations, where we've brought Karina Judd's undie math into the world of online ready reckoners you can run on your mobile! Just enter the indicated data below, and we'll sort out how much underwear you should pack for your travel. [If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version.]

Underwear Quantity Factors
Input DataValues
What is the minimum quantity of clean underwear that you wear per day?
How many days will you be traveling?
Do you have any gut concerns, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance?
If you expect it during your trip, what is the average heaviness of your period?
Have you had, or are you about to have a baby?

How Much Underwear You Should Pack
Calculated ResultsValues
Quantity

For the sake of simplicity, we've limited the tool to consider no more than a week-long vacation, where we've assumed you will not have access to clean underwear outside of what you pack (if you're traveling for longer than that, or have limited packing space, you might consider taking advantage of local options for doing laundry during your trip).

We've also generalized the math a bit, to make it more universally applicable. The original math in Karina Judd's spreadsheet was developed by Jess Evans, who considered a number of additional factors that could affect your underwear packing needs, such as the temperature of your destination, whether the drinking water is "dodgy", and whether you will be able to do laundry while traveling, where the spreadsheet can handle a much longer trip.

Previously on Political Calculations

Underwear math is far from the strangest problem we've built tools to solve! Here's a sampling of some of the other quirky problems we've tackled over time....


Should You Admit Your Incompetence?

Are you not anywhere near as capable as you make yourself out to be? If so, you might have a problem, and potentially a really big problem.

How big a problem that may be depends upon several factors:

  • What are the consequences if you continue? Do you face impending doom?
  • How competent do the people you work with think you are?
  • How competent do you really need to be to do what you do?
  • How competent are you really?
  • How good are you at faking being competent?
  • How long have you been faking being competent?

Geek Logik author Garth Sundem has considered these questions, and describes how they might come into play in a work setting:

On your resumé it states "expert in protein-structure analysis," a phrase you heard once on the Discovery Channel. Originally, you though it did a good job of filling the white space under "other skills" and never thought your knowledge of crystallography would be tested while you were working at Blockbuster. But now your manager wants you to categorize this month's new movies based on their homologous superfamily and/or CATH designation and you're thinking "online gaming" would have been a beter choice as resumé filler. However, you're pretty sure your manager can't tell an orthogonal prism from an alpha solenoid, so you might get away with faking it. On the other hand, someone likely had this same thought just before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Clearly, this is the kind of situation that would only arise if you lacked the integrity to be honest about your capabilities in the first place. But since you already have problems with your integrity, you now have a choice: should you continue your bluff or should you finally come clean and admit your incompetence before things spiral out of control for you?

Fortunately for you, Garth Sundem has put those ethical questions into algebraic form, which we've turned into a tool to do the math for you! All you need to do is to rank yourself on each of the following questions, which Garth has expressed by incorporating a more serious surgical scenario, and we'll help you determine how you'll deal with the problem that is entirely of your own making.

If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, click here to access a working version of this tool!

Assessment of Incompetence
Input DataValues
What is the level of impending doom should this task fail?
[1-10, with 10 being "the patient is prepped and the scalpel is in my hand."]
What is the level of proficiency that your boss or coworkers expect of you?
[1-10, with 10 being "claim to have pioneered new surgical procedure called the Bilateral Invasive Colonic Hitch (BICH) and the surgical team believes this has something to do with the patient's chronic back pain."]
What is the level of proficiency needed to complete the task?
[1-10, with 10 being "required expertise in anatomical organization of the lumbar sympathetic nervous system."]
What is your actual level of proficiency for performing the task?
[1-10, with 1 being "that's the lower back, right?"]
What is your ability to bluff?
[1-10, with 10 being "known as Iceman on World Poker Tour."]
How deep into your bluff are you?
[1-10, with 10 being "remembering the game Operation and have successfully removed things without setting off the buzzer."]

Should You Admit Your Incompetence Or Continue Faking Control?
Calculated ResultsValues
Incompetence Index
The Bottom Line

At this point, we can't help but think of Dave Foley's classic comedic performance in "The Doctor" sketch from the Kids in the Hall:

While these scenarios may seem far fetched, the truth is they are all too common, as the lack of meaningful consequences encourages the unethical behavior. Just consider the case of the less than capable econometrician who effectively made themselves into the economics equivalent of a climate change denier just so they could both avoid losing face and sustain their error-laden, invalid analyses, or the more serious cases of the Environmental Protection Administration's top climate expert who claimed to be a spy for the CIA for a decade, or the phony records that allowed the staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs to claim big bonuses for providing care they never delivered.

This tool is for them!


Guest post contributed by Alec Chinn.



Should You Admit Your Incompetence?

Are you not anywhere near as capable as you make yourself out to be? If so, you might have a problem, and potentially a really big problem.

How big a problem that may be depends upon several factors:

  • What are the consequences if you continue? Do you face impending doom?
  • How competent do the people you work with think you are?
  • How competent do you really need to be to do what you do?
  • How competent are you really?
  • How good are you at faking being competent?
  • How long have you been faking being competent?

Geek Logik author Garth Sundem has considered these questions, and describes how they might come into play in a work setting:

On your resumé it states "expert in protein-structure analysis," a phrase you heard once on the Discovery Channel. Originally, you though it did a good job of filling the white space under "other skills" and never thought your knowledge of crystallography would be tested while you were working at Blockbuster. But now your manager wants you to categorize this month's new movies based on their homologous superfamily and/or CATH designation and you're thinking "online gaming" would have been a beter choice as resumé filler. However, you're pretty sure your manager can't tell an orthogonal prism from an alpha solenoid, so you might get away with faking it. On the other hand, someone likely had this same thought just before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Clearly, this is the kind of situation that would only arise if you lacked the integrity to be honest about your capabilities in the first place. But since you already have problems with your integrity, you now have a choice: should you continue your bluff or should you finally come clean and admit your incompetence before things spiral out of control for you?

Fortunately for you, Garth Sundem has put those ethical questions into algebraic form, which we've turned into a tool to do the math for you! All you need to do is to rank yourself on each of the following questions, which Garth has expressed by incorporating a more serious surgical scenario, and we'll help you determine how you'll deal with the problem that is entirely of your own making.

If you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, click here to access a working version of this tool!

Assessment of Incompetence
Input DataValues
What is the level of impending doom should this task fail?
[1-10, with 10 being "the patient is prepped and the scalpel is in my hand."]
What is the level of proficiency that your boss or coworkers expect of you?
[1-10, with 10 being "claim to have pioneered new surgical procedure called the Bilateral Invasive Colonic Hitch (BICH) and the surgical team believes this has something to do with the patient's chronic back pain."]
What is the level of proficiency needed to complete the task?
[1-10, with 10 being "required expertise in anatomical organization of the lumbar sympathetic nervous system."]
What is your actual level of proficiency for performing the task?
[1-10, with 1 being "that's the lower back, right?"]
What is your ability to bluff?
[1-10, with 10 being "known as Iceman on World Poker Tour."]
How deep into your bluff are you?
[1-10, with 10 being "remembering the game Operation and have successfully removed things without setting off the buzzer."]

Should You Admit Your Incompetence Or Continue Faking Control?
Calculated ResultsValues
Incompetence Index
The Bottom Line

At this point, we can't help but think of Dave Foley's classic comedic performance in "The Doctor" sketch from the Kids in the Hall:

While these scenarios may seem far fetched, the truth is they are all too common, as the lack of meaningful consequences encourages the unethical behavior. Just consider the case of the less than capable econometrician who effectively made themselves into the economics equivalent of a climate change denier just so they could both avoid losing face and sustain their error-laden, invalid analyses, or the more serious cases of the Environmental Protection Administration's top climate expert who claimed to be a spy for the CIA for a decade, or the phony records that allowed the staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs to claim big bonuses for providing care they never delivered.

This tool is for them!


Guest post contributed by Alec Chinn.