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Garth Sundem is a Science, Math and general Geek Culture writer, TED speaker, and author of books including Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Dish the Lab-Tested Secrets of Surfing, Dating, Dieting... Read More »


After using a previous equation to pair parenting styles with a parenting method book, I thought it might be fun to use a similar format to pair political ideas with a candidate.

The following equation is as non-partisan as I could possibly make it, and does more to measure and define your personal opinion than to choose candidates in the abstract. The crux, of course, is nailing down politicians' beliefs enough to accurately chart their numbers (though letting your bias, beliefs and opinions peek through this equation is as telling as the eventual result, itself).

The Equation - Who Should You Vote For?

First, order the following traits or political issues according to how central they are to the candidate’s message, or at least how important you think they should be in their central message ; 1 through 7 with 1 being most important and 7 least.

So, you've seen the WSOP on ESPN—big money, big personalities, big bluffs. But what these highlight reels forget to mention is the fact that, at the highest level, there's method behind the blood-pumping madness. Behind every good bluff is a strong foundation of numbers. And here it is: the equation that defines when to pull the trigger, even if you're holding three-six offsuit.

Plug your numbers into this equation (or into the attached spreadsheet calculator) to calculate the percentage that you should bluff. Note—this works well for a specific situation: No Limit Texas Hold' Em, just after seeing the flop.

Rather than waxing poetic, it seems best to look at the variables in order:

'Tis the season—the real estate season—and though this one isn't shaping up to be the boomer of two years ago, or even the desperate sell-off of last summer, people will nevertheless be buying houses. If you are one of these people, read on. It's a buyers market this year (or so my real estate agent tells me), but which house is right for you? Use this equation to find out—it works surprisingly well.

Lately they've been dropping like flies—Imus, Rosie, Rumsie. Who's next? Gonzales? Wolfowitz? And then there's Alec Baldwin—he doesn't, technically, have anything to resign from, but what are the chances his career can recover from the temper tantrum he left on his 12-year old daughter's phone? What about a more esoteric resignation candidate like Cheney? Is there any hope?

I originally wrote this equation for an interview on the PRI radio program Fair Game, but we got to chatting and ran out of time, so I thought I'd blog it as well.

Let me first say that I think it would be a lot of fun to invade Trinidad. While I mean no disrespect to Trinidad, I'm fairly certain it would not be an overly cumbersome task for the U.S. military (even extended as they are).

And the exit strategy would be obvious: after Carnival, we come home. We could make it a yearly event — invade Trinidad, party for a couple weeks, and then bring the troops home.

In theory, if you could define all the factors that go into making a decision and could define exactly how important is each of these factors, and could define how these factors interact, you could make an equation that precisely solves any decision. Of course, to be perfect, this equation would have to be tweaked and amended to include the variables that are relevant to each person making the decision, and the framework of the equation would have to reflect their personal value systems, etc.

What a pain in the neck!

It's much easier (and funnier!) just to wink at the problem and shoot to mimic common sense as closely as possible with a minimum of variables. So that's what I try to do with these equations: match common sense, and hopefully provide a laugh.