Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Is this wasting time?

Today we spent some time watching the awesome Rushmore-esque video for The Decemberists track "16 Military Wives", then analysing the opening verse.

Sixteen military wives

Thirty-two softly focused brightly colored eyes

Staring at the natural tan

of thirty-two gently clenching wrinkled little hands

Seventeen company men

Out of which only twelve will make it back again

Sergeant sends a letter to five

Military wives, whose tears drip down through ten little eyes

we try to Venn diagram the relationships, but struggle and go to a 2-way table. We ask logical questions about it - we manage to pretty much destroy logic - for example, when i point out that 16 wives and 32 eyes meant that they all had two eyes each, D. refutes this asking the unexpected but valid question - "are we assuming that all these women have two eyes each, or could there be a freaky one with 3 eyes?" "well, " says J. "that means there'd have to be a woman with one eye as well..."

This opens up a world of discussion - if there was a woman with 3 eyes, how does this affect her chances of finding her fictional hubby has died? K. thinks it made her safe, as if she was crying, there would be 11 little eyes crying, but H. counters that if the oned eyed woman was crying as well that would make it ok. We decide that, assuming ther was only one woman who had one eye, and one woman with three, their respective happiness depended entirely on each other - if one's husband died, then other must have too.

From there to conditional probability, tree diagrams and beyond, a totally worthwhile waste of time.

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