What's on my mind.

21 October 2008

Real America?

On last night's The Daily Show John presented an equation and a short quiz to help one figure out if one lived in Real America™ or not. Obviously, I failed the quiz since I was watching The Daily Show, but I was wondering about Tuscaloosa in general. To check the validity of the equation I'm going to do Andalusia, AL, also. I lived there for two years; it is pretty much Real America™. So I've collected the numbers I could and guessed the ones I couldn't. Here goes the calculations:

(p*c*a*Jr)/(S*(Pth-Pt)*(1/t-b)) = R
If R is less than 10 you live in Real America, if not you are going to hell.

p, population = 89000 (Tuscaloosa City), 171160 (Tuscaloosa Co)
c, Cost of a cup of coffee = $1.85
a, # of art house theaters = 2 (Bama, and the Ferg)
Jr, # of streets named for ML King, Jr. = 2 (one in T-town, one in Northport)
S, # of ids needed to buy Sudefed = 1
Pth, # of people who wear trucker hats = IDK
Pt, # of truckers = IDK
t, # of churches = 205 (Tuscaloosa addresses), 352 (in the county total, best I can tell YMMV)
b, # of bars = 12 (Tuscaloosa addresses), 13 (in county)

For whole of Tuscaloosa county: (171160)(1.85)(2)(2)(352-13)/1(1000c)=1717488

For Andalusia:
p=8794; c=1.50; a=0; Jr=1; Pth=IDK, Pt=IDK the ratio is higher than in Tuscaloosa is my guess; t=60; b=3


I think I've just found a couple of serious flaws in this equation. One improvement would be to put (t-b) in the denominator not the numerator (or 1/(t-b) in the denominator). The higher the church to bar ratio the "realer" a town gets, so it should make R get smaller. If your town has an art house theater or a street named for Dr. King then the population has to be tiny. Of course many would argue that the existence of an art house theater means you are not living in Real America™. Another problem with the equation is the whole Pth thing. Does have more non-truckers wearing trucker hats make your town realer? I've seen them on students who might not have been real Americans™.

Luckily all of this will be rendered moot in two weeks when all Americans, Real™ or otherwise (but legally eligible to vote), vote for our next president and, hopefully, all talk of "real" Virginia, "real" American values, and any thing else that tries separate the country stops for another 4 years. (Ok, 2.25 - until the next primary season begins.)

a Several zip codes outside the city limits show up as Tuscaloosa, a cursory yellowpages.com search doesn't separate the two.
b the phone book listings include many restaurants with bars as well as pure drinking establishments.
c I'm estimating here, I'm not sure I know the true differences between a baseball hat and a trucker hat but I don't see very many of the later, as I would define them. This number could be as high as half a freshman class at UA (or 2,250).

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