Tuesday, May 6, 2014

two adults, i guess

So, my point was supposed to be about Punxsutawneyans' treatment of their homeless population, and I will get to that. But, first, how to narrow down 440.83 supposedly "eligible" women to Phil's 63?

As I said at the end of yesterday's entry, Phil likes brunettes (Rita), redheads (Nancy), and blondes (Laraine). And, I've already narrowed down his interest range by age, based on those three: 30 to 34. In trying to narrow down the options a little more, I was reminded of an episode of This American Life--Episode 486: Valentine's Day. The opener for the show involves David Kestenbaum, a physicist attempting "to employ the power of mathematics to estimate the likelihood of finding a girlfriend." Permit an extended excerpt:

David Kestenbaum
So we started to do the calculation on the board and-- can you look up what the population of Boston is?

Ira Glass
Now David is asking me to look this up because at this point in our interview I actually made him run the math for me with real numbers that we got from the internet. So he started with the population of Boston, because he and his fellow physics students wanted girlfriends in Boston, where they all lived. Population of Boston, I found online, was a little under 600,000.

David Kestenbaum
So you start with 600,000. Which sounds great, except that half of them are guys, right? And I'm only interested in girls.

Ira Glass
OK, so that's 300,000.

David Kestenbaum
And then I want people, let's be honest, probably within 10 years of my age or something. Right?

Ira Glass
OK, so 10 years on either side. So that means--

David Kestenbaum
I'm actually looking at some numbers here. It looks like if you go from 20 to 40, you're talking-- that's still, like, 35% of the population, 1/3 or something.

Ira Glass
So that means that out of 300,000 women, that leaves 100,000 in his age range. These being doctoral students, they wanted girlfriends who were college grads. Well, OK. About 25% of Americans over 25 years old have graduated from college. That knocks out roughly 3/4 of these women.

David Kestenbaum
Ouch.

Ira Glass
So you're down to-- we were at 100,000. So you're down to 25,000.

David Kestenbaum
Then you start applying stuff like how often are they single.

Ira Glass
Yeah. Let's say half of them are single. So now you're down to 12,500.

David Kestenbaum
Yeah. See, it's getting scary now, right?

Ira Glass
And then, of course, you get to how many people are actually attractive to you. And even if you give a really high percentage like one in five, that knocks your pool of candidates down from 12,500 to 2,500.

David Kestenbaum
Ugh. In the whole city of Boston, right?

Ira Glass
Yeah.

David Kestenbaum
That's just like a needle in a haystack.

Ira Glass
And that 2,500 is before you get to anything personal like your religion or how you see the world, what's your sense of humor. So Dave and his fellow students are talking about this, these rather kind of depressing numbers.

Phil's in a smaller town, and he's got a smaller number: 440.83. The question now: what does he like or not like? Pre- and early- loop Phil is shallow...

(Permit a brief sidetrack. I was just talking about what I was about to say here and my son suggested Phil likes dumb girls. There was some debate about whether or not the three girls in question were dumb. I insisted Rita is supposed to be intelligent. But, we decided there was no reason to suggest either way that Laraine was intelligent or not. Nancy, though. Kieran (my son) said she's dumb because Phil calls her another name twice and she accepts the "whatever." I say that just means she's desperate. After all--and here it got a little sexist--how many men does she see at the dress shop where she works--and here it got a little offensive--except maybe that gay waiter Bill, or Ned Ryerson. I shake my head at the two of us now, and move on.)

As I was saying before I was offensively interrupted, pre- and early- loop Phil is shallow. I figure he wouldn't--keep in mind, this is Phil's rudeness, not mine--go for, say obese women. So, I looked up some more numbers. In 2012, 29.1% of Pennsylvanians were obese. But, Groundhog Day doesn't happen in 2012. In 1990, the percentage was between 10 and 14.9%, and in 1995 it was between 15 and 19.9%. I'm going to go with the middle there and say 15%. That means 66.1245 of those eligible women are obese. This gets us down to 374.7055 women. We'll round that off to 375, because I don't think Phil would go for a fraction of a woman.

For the record, I am ignoring race in this "equation" because even as of 2010, the non-white population of Punxsutawney was only 3.19%. That's small enough that I am going to ignore it... well, I was going to ignore it. But, then I did the math. 3.19% of 375 women is 11.9625. Round that off to an even dozen and we're down to 363. Only 300 more to rule out.

I cannot find good LGBT numbers from the time, but a 2013 Gallup poll found Pennsylvania's LGBT percentage at 2.7. That's probably concentrated to urban areas more than rural, and might have changed a lot from 20 years ago, but I need some numbers. 2.7% of 363 is 9.801, so I'm going to subtract another 10 women. That's gets us down to 353.

Some 7.1% of Pennsylvanians in 2010 reported an ambulatory disability. If I'm assuming early-loop Phil is a picky bastard, he probably won't go for these women either. 7.1% of 353 is 25.063. Take off another 25 women, then, and we're down to 328.

By the way, height doesn't figure into this because Bill Murray/Phil Connors is 6'2", and a 2007-2008 CDC sampling says 100% of women were shorter than that. I assume it's a statistical 100% and not a literal 100%, but still entirely negligible here.

I would assume that religious views would play into this, just as other... behavioral aspects might, but when we're dealing with Phil accessing these women, as he puts it in Rubin's original script, I don't think he is too worried about personality. He certainly chooses Nancy based purely on looks. So, I wonder what makes certain people attractive to each of us. If 328 women were in front of me, would only 63 be attractive? That's 19.2073171%, roughly 1 in 5. For me, lately, I might call that low. But, I'm still getting over being married... which is troublesome wording but, oh well. For Phil... this is the guy who (non-film) Rita says, "can charm all the little P.A.'s at the station, all the secretaries, and even some of the weekend anchors..." (Ramis, 1992, January 7, p. 40). So, for Phil, the question is, does his usual access to women, say, whenever he wants them mean he is more picky in Punxsutawney, or that he grabs at anything he can get?

Or is 1 in 5 a reasonable number for who we would normally find attractive? I wish I could find some demographics on attractiveness but I'm not finding anything useful.

(The Wikipedia page on physical attractiveness, for example, breaks down female attractiveness into a lot of categories--Facial features, Youthfulness, Breasts, Buttocks, Body mass, Waist–hip ratio, Height, Leg-to-body ratio, Hair, Movement patterns, Skin tone and skin radiance, Eyes and Other determinants--and I am not going to look up statistics on each of those.)

The idea that we might be physically attracted to 1 in 5 people (of whichever gender we tend to be attracted to) seems reasonable, maybe even a little high.

And, I still didn't get to the homeless people (person) in Punxsutawney. Tomorrow... probably.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to be attracted to everyone and throw off all of my already wonky math.

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