“More” Is Less

I don’t normally post this type of rant on the blog. But, it’s a bit long for Facebook, and it does deal with some kid-tangential things. So…

Summer School is in session. I need some help. And, I have a lot of teacher and science/math-oriented friends. Before my brain atrophies any further, I need a grammarian and a mathematician to talk me down from the ledge. Also, I have a feminist or two to keep me on track.

Not your usual vacation photo post, I know. But, here’s a real-life exercise that is killing me. Give me 10 minutes. (Get a cup of coffee.)

Following the fantastic USA Women’s Soccer World Cup victory, I saw the following headline: “U.S. Women Champs Earn 4 Times Less than Men”

Politics aside, I have two problems: one grammatical and one mathematical.

1) Grammar: This headline is at best inartfully worded, and at worst, intentionally confusing.

When one says that something is “4 times” something else, you immediately think more. But then you have this big fat “less” in there, and now it is reductive. How contrarian of you. You’re beginning to sound like me.

“U.S. Women Champs Earn 4 Times Less than Men”

Is this because of our penchant for hyping things to make them sound grander and more luxurious and glamorous when we actually mean they are smaller? “More” is less.

More is less.

Take the scenario: The 50-year-old Director married the 25-year-old Supermodel. Would you say…

– She is half his age.
– He is twice as old as her. Or…
– She is two-times younger than he is.

Who talks like that?

(And, of course, this is a trick question, because the Director was a woman. And the Supermodel was a man. It’s my scenario, so deal…) But, you get the point.

“U.S. Women Champs Earn 4 Times Less than Men”

I think I know what this headline writer meant (or I don’t, see below), but wouldn’t it be easier to simply say:

“U.S. Women Champs Earn One Quarter of Men’s Winnings.”

Wouldn’t that just be clearer? Why try to inflate things in a smaller direction?

But, here’s where I have a bigger problem with the numbers…

“U.S. Women Champs Earn 4 Times Less than Men”

2) Mathematics. Is this in a Common Core question, because if it is, it is a bullshit, sloppy damn question? And, I totally expect to find it on my 6th grader’s state test.

“U.S. Women Champs Earn 4 Times Less than Men”

“4 Times Less” is not an animal that lives in nature. Times = more, Less = Less. Combining the two is a bit like oil and water. They don’t mix. By nature.

And, this plays out as… Should I grab an abacus?

Let’s say the men earn 4 Units. And the women earn 1 Unit. 4 -1 = 3.

The difference between the Men and Women is 3 units.

Where does “4 times less” factor in? 4 times “what,” exactly? Isn’t there a coefficient? A constant? A Pythagorean or something?

It is a quarter of the men. But how is it 4 times less?

Math people, explain. What am I misunderstanding? (And, I’m not afraid of decimals.)

“U.S. Women Champs Earn 4 Times Less than Men”

But, pay the ladies. Times 5. Sounds fair. I mean, they actually WON the damn thing.

Awesome Bro!

Saturday morning, catching up on some DVR’d TV with Isabella (the eight-year-old).

Iz: Daddy, I wanna watch American Ninja Warrior.

Me: Really?… Ok.

It’s an obstacle course. Really tough.

Dude falls into the water. Another dude falls into the water. The girl falls into the water (Isabella: Rats! I thought she could do it!)

Announcer Bro: Our next contestant is a Professional Frisbee Player so you know he has mad reaction skillz!

(With a “Z.”)

Alas, An eight-year-old brings the first bit of rationality:

Iz: Daddy… A Professional Frisbee player? Is that even a thing?

Me: No, Honey. No. Except for frat boys or Trust Fund kids. No one can make a living throwing a frisbee.

Seriously, America. It’s getting out of hand. With the elevating everyone to awesomeness!

Dude fell into the water. (But, with an awesome splash!)

[Yes, I’m awaiting the slings and arrows of pro-frizzB fans. Wait… there aren’t any? Point proven.]

Fields of Flat

Family night the other night had us watching “The Gabby Douglas Story” about the US gymnast who took a couple of gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. It’s a Lifetime TV movie, so there’s that. (Expect lots of exclamation points.)

On screen, Gabby and her mother have a bit of dialogue. (I don’t have a script, so I’m paraphrasing. But, it was pretty much like this the whole way through.)

Gabby (upset): Mommy! I finished in 16th place! I have to go to Iowa to train with Coach Liang Chow!

Gabby’s mother: Honey! Iowa is a long way from here!

Gabby: I don’t care! I’m going! I want to go to the Olympics!


Here’s how the discussion went in our house. (Also, no script. Fewer exclamation points. More sarcasm.)

Isabella (the 8-year-old gymnast): Daddy…

Me: Let me stop you right there.

Isabella: Stop who? Where?

Me: If you ever finish in 16th place, we will happily send you to Iowa.

Iz: So, I can train with Coach Chow?!

Me: No. Because of the shame you will have brought to this family, we will send you to Iowa.

Iz: But, they must have other coaches there, right?

Me: You know what they have in Iowa?

Iz: What?

Me: Flat. They have a whole lot of flat.

Mommy (chiming in): And, Fields of Dreams.

Me: Yeah. Flat and ’90s-era Kevin Costner baseball movies.

Iz: But, what if I win?

Me: What do you mean?

Iz: Well, if I win, then I think YOU should go to Iowa. So, it will be less flat. Because, you know, your belly.

I’ve already spent half the day looking for my baseball glove.

The Final Frontier

I’m doing my usual roundabout with the TV flipper at the top of the hour to see a) what did I miss and, b) what’s on next. Of course, I land on the Science Channel.

Narrator Mike Rowe: Black Holes are one of the Great Mysteries of the Cosmos, blah blah blah (No offense, Mike, but a 10-year-old is talking)…

Julianna (the aforementioned 10-year-old) suddenly whips around from the Minecraft video game stupor she’s been playing online.

J: Daddy! I love Black Holes! Because people say you can go to another dimension!

Me: Yes, Honey. Lots of theories.

J: But, Daddy! They say that you would be crushed in a Black Hole. And, Time has no meaning! How does that work?

Me: I don’t know, Sweetie. I’ve never been to one. No one has even gotten close.

J: Because they are MILLIONS of “light” years away. I don’t know what that means.

Me: Well, you see, light travels really fast, at like 186,000 miles per second…

J: But, if you got sucked into a Black Hole, you would come out the other side in another Time and another Universe. That is So Cool!

Me: Lots and lots of scientists are thinking about these things. But, no one really knows. Though, I understand that some people don’t ever consider other peoples’ time when they talk.

J: I want to be a star scientist someday! Like an astronomer! To find out the answers!

Me: Great! The next show is about comets. Do you want to watch that?

J: Um, no thanks. Comets are boring. I’m good with Minecraft.

I’m not sure that you can skip Newtonian Physics and go straight to Quantum Physics. But, if you can, Julianna will find a way. After she beats the Creepers.

Mike Rowe, can you Jazz the universe up a little?

Reality Is Not Real

I’ve been watching too much reality TV lately (hint: there’s nothing really “real” about it…)

If you own a failing restaurant, and you actively seek out television shows like Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares for help, understand a few things:

– The production scout singled your place out 2 months ago. Measurements were taken. Menus sampled. Nothing edible was found. Nothing. And, that’s a good thing, at least for you. Your customers, not so much. There’s a reason they found you in this strip mall.

– The TV Host is English, so there’s a language problem to begin with. But, he has a point. Please, don’t advertise your shrimp as fresh if it is frozen. Your salsa is homemade because it comes from a jar. And if you have a can opener in the house of re-fried beans?…

BAM! Go to hell. Straight to hell.

(Also, there’s a TV crew watching everything. So, act accordingly. “Act” accordingly.)

– The Host will hate your food and demand that you update your menu to meet his standards. If you are too stubborn to change the menu, then why on God’s Green Earth did you call these people? You asked them to come. You read the memo. You signed the contract. Don’t look at me.

– Acknowledge this: Your kitchen is filthy, reprehensible, and disgusting. You should be expected to be insulted, infuriated, and/or in denial. You didn’t clean out the fridge before the camera crew arrived? You understand the premise of these shows, yes? They are looking for filth.

When studying your menu…

– Your host will ask you for stuff that no one in their right mind will ask for. Like the “house specialty.” Goat cheese and chicken liver ravioli in a jalapeño pesto sauce?


The Host will spit it out. (Rightly so.)

Everything else on the menu sucks.

– The Host also hates your decor. It’s something from your grandma’s kitchen with a ’50s stained carpet. It deserves to be hated. Everything is covered in plastic. Also, stained.

The Host has a maximum of 48 hours to get this place clean. And completely redesigned. There’s also a laughably small budget. (Because, TV.)

– Also, The Host, despite not having any training in psychology or family counseling, will diagnose and cure you of years of pent up frustrations, resentments, and hostilities with your family and staff. And get you into the 21st century with the computers and the internet and such. In 48 hours. He’s a miracle worker.

But, your regulars are seeking comfort food. Canned tomato sauce. Frozen clams. Reheated burgers. That’s their expectation. And, now you’ve added arugula and parsnips. Who eats that crap?

But, it’ll help if you play along.