Posts tagged ‘Virginia’

The Virginia Governor’s Race and MP.6

Hotly contested. Particularly nasty. Ugly. Uncivilized. Controversial. Disgusting. Dirty.

Those are just some of the words and phrases used to describe this year’s race for governor in my home state of Virginia. It’s part of the reason that we had the highest voter turnout for a gubernatorial election in 20 years. It’s also why every citizen in the Old Dominion was anxiously awaiting the results.

I was no different. At 8:30 p.m. EST, I strolled on over to POLITICO, where I was presented with more information that I could handle:

VA Election Results - 8:31 p.m.

VA Gubernatorial Results at 8:31 p.m. EST

It was surprising that Northam had a 5.8% lead, since some recent polls suggested that his lead had dwindled to as little as 3.3%. It was surprising that only 90 minutes after the polls had closed, many news organizations were already declaring Northam the winner. But it was outright astonishing that POLITICO was displaying the percent of precints reporting as:

72.68121590023384%

WTF?

On Feburary 13, 2011, in a post titled Statistically Speaking…, I presented the following joke:

69.8724% of all statistics reflect an unjustified level of precision.

Three years later, in a post titled Sound Smart with Math Words, I presented another version of that same joke, though this time the percentage was expressed to the millionths:

An unprecedented 69.846743% of all statistics reflect an unjustified level of precision.

Did I think the additional precision would make it more obvious that the sentence was actually a joke? Or did I just think it would make it funnier? I’m not sure.

But I do know that it would never have occurred to me to take the level of precision to 14 — count them, 14! — digits of accuracy beyond the decimal point.

But POLITICO thought it was necessary.

That’s right. They calculated and displayed the percent of precincts reporting to the hundred-trillionths place. Hundred. Trillionths.

That’s like stating the winning time for the Tour de France to the nearest millisecond.

Or estimating the weight of the Earth to the nearest gram.

In fairness to POLITICO, though, the percentages that they were reporting not only reflected an unjustified level of precision. They were also wrong.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, there are 2,567 precincts in the commonwealth. If 1,865 precincts had submitted results, the percent of precincts reporting could have been displayed as:

72.6529%

If 1,866 precincts had turned in their results, the percent of precincts reporting could have been displayed as:

72.6918%

But there is no number of precincts for which the percent could have been reported as:

72.68121590023384%

So, either POLITICO was using an incorrect denominator, or their algorithm was incorrectly calculating percentages.

Oh, well. At least they got the election results correct. (I hope.)

In their defense, they did finally make a correction. When I checked the results at 9:24 p.m. EST, this is what was presented:

Virginia Election Results - 9:24 p.m.

VA Gubernatorial Results at 9:24 p.m. EST

The percentage of precincts was displayed as a more reasonable 97.74%. From this, I can surmise that 2,509 precincts had reported their results (since 2,509 / 2,567 = 0.9774) and that POLITICO had finally found someone who was nimble with a slide rule.

November 8, 2017 at 5:51 am Leave a comment

A Perfect State

A perfect number is a positive integer that is equal to the sum of its proper positive factors.

Perfect numbers, like perfect individuals, are very rare.
– Rene Descartes

They are very rare, indeed — there are only five perfect numbers less than 1,000,000,000. Because 6 and 28 are two of them, you might say that today is a perfect day.

Perfect Square: A nerd who never makes mistakes.

I recently coined the term perfect state to refer to a state for which the number of letters in its name is equal to the number of letters in the name of the state capital.

One of the Perfect StatesTo pass the time on a recent car trip, I asked my sons to see how many perfect states they could find. During their search, they identified many states that were not perfect, and they giggled gleefully when I referred to them as abundant (more letters in the capital than in the state) and deficient (fewer letters in the capital than in the state).

They were extremely excited to learn that our home state, Virginia, is a perfect state. This did not surprise me — with beaches to the east, mountains in the west, urban living in the north, rural country in the south, and a whole lot of wine country in between, I’ve often argued that Virginia is the perfect state. (In their song Old Dominion, local band Eddie from Ohio describes Virginia as “just southeast of heaven to the surf and the hills.” Yeah, that’s about right.)

Anyway, my sons were able to find Virginia and seven other perfect states without the help of a map. Can you?

Need some help? Check out this map with a color-coded solution. The deficient states are white, the abundant states are dark blue, and the perfect states are light blue.

June 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment


About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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