Monday, December 8, 2008

I like being a nerd

This is so funny. In my field methods linguistics class we've been talking about the semantics and pragmatics of the phrase "oh snap." We've taught our teacher (40s-ish, Dr. Elzinga) how to use it, and he's pretty obsessed with it. I just found it used in a Gmail blog post and I can't wait to share it with my classmates! I think that some of them will disagree with the way that it's been used, but I think that it fits. Hilarious! And nerdy. I have realized that my classes--my entire university career--has changed the way that I look at the world, especially in a linguistic way.

Another example of this: I have been dealing with stats and stuff for my senior paper for the Linguistics senior seminar class (Ling 490). The research has been interesting, but I'll be happy when the paper is done and turned in. Anyway, I have also been entering my name in a daily drawing on BYU campus. They have two places on campus where you can enter yourself daily, and then the next day they publish in the paper the 10 winners that were drawn the previous night. As I was putting my name in today, I wondered about the statistical probability that an even number of the 10 people drawn each day came from both of the two locations where you can enter the drawing. I wanted to know how many people who had won already were people who were submitting their entries at the same location that I was...you see the reason for my interest, right? But I went so far as to ask the guys manning the booth if they knew if the program was keeping track of the locations that the winners submitted to, for statistical purposes. They said it wasn't being tracked. But I'm going to contact the Daily Universe and suggest that for next year. It will make the drawing more scientific if they can prove that your name has just as much chance being drawn from one location as the other (they're all put into one big bin for the drawing, but does one location have an advantage?). Yeah, I'm a nerd.

1 comment:

Jody said...

This post reminded me of the first draft lottery years ago during the Viet Nam war. They put in a giant cage a ball for each day of the year - all the January ones first, then February, etc, through December. Then they spun the cage a couple of times and began pulling out balls. The first ball was number one, then number two through 365. The low numbers were the first to be drafted. There were a great number of December birthdays drawn with low numbers.
Some time someone - probably a statistician, began wondering why the proliferation of December birthdays and looked into the method used. The poor guys drawn that year had no recourse, but the next year things were done differently.

The next year there were two cages. The first had balls bearing a month and day. The second had balls with a number (1 through 365). They spun each cags for a specified time that included more than a few casual turns.
Then they drew a date from one cage and, rather than call it number one, they drew a number ball from the other cage, and matched them. I don't know what the actual matches were, but it could be Jan 1 attached to 340, or Dec 1 attached to 12. The draft numbers were created very randomly from that time forward. (I learned this in my university Applied Math class - that I loved.)