Political Calculations
Unexpectedly Intriguing!
November 28, 2014

A lot of Americans set out to do a lot of their shopping for Christmas on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but that can present a dilemma to the Christmas shopper if their money is tight: how to stay within a budget while shopping for everyone you're giving gifts to this year.

That dilemma then carries down to each individual gift purchase, as our hypothetical shopper must work how much to spend on each. Surely there must be a better way to work out how much to spend on each gift!

And yes, as it happens, there is! Brain Candy and Beyond IQ author Garth Sundem shows how to apply math to solve this problem of gift-giving with a budget:

Obviously, that kind of math is hard to work out while on the go, so we're happy to present a tool to help you make your shopping list! Just enter the indicated data below into our generic list below and we'll work out how much you should target spending on each:

Gift Buying on a Budget
Input Data Amount
Your Christmas Gift Budget
Individual for Whom You're Shopping Their Importance to You
[On a Scale of 1 to 10]
Person A
Person B
Person C
Person D
Person E
Person F
Person G
Person H
Person I
Person J
Your Christmas Shopping Budget per Gift Recipient
Calculated Results Values
Person A
Person B
Person C
Person D
Person E
Person F
Person G
Person H
Person I
Person J

We'll leave it as an exercise to you to identify just who Person A, B, C, etc. are when you print out the list and take it with you while shopping. In the meantime though, we can recommend Garth's books Brain Candy or Beyond IQ as gifts for those thinking people you know this Christmas season.

But the best part is that Garth's gift-budget system isn't included in either of these books, so the recipients will have no idea how you decided to spend what you did on them!

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November 27, 2014

After you watch these timely videos, you'll have a much better appreciation for our suggested conversation tips for this year's Thanksgiving dinner. Because otherwise, they could be a lot like this:

Or if your family prefers tradition, like this:

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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November 26, 2014

For many Americans, part of what makes the Thanksgiving holidays such an ordeal from year to year is simply finding something new and interesting to talk about with family members around the dining table.

We've decided to make that a lot easier to do this year, because we've uncovered a pretty uncanny, yet spurious correlation between the average live weight of farm-raised turkeys in the United States and the value of the MSCI World Stock Market Index since 1970!

Spurious Correlation: Average Live Weight of U.S. Farm-Raised Turkeys and MSCI World Stock Market Index, 1970 - 2014

As you can see in our carefully calibrated chart above, whenever the value of the MSCI World index has exceeded the equivalent live weight of an average farm-raised turkey in the U.S., the index went on to either stagnate or crash. And in 2014, the value of the the MSCI World Stock Market Index has once again exceeded that key threshold, which can only mean one thing.... The climate for investors has changed, and it's time to sell!

And if they try to tell you that doesn't make any real sense, you should hold firm and tell them that the correlation is really strong (the R² is 0.9616), which means that the science is settled and that they really shouldn't want to be some kind of climate change science denier.

Speaking of which, the rising live weight of U.S. farm-raised turkeys also is strongly correlated with global warming. Believe it or not, the correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures is not very strong at all (other factors do a much more coherent job in explaining actual temperature observations).

Say what you will about the science, but you cannot deny that by using tips like this, you can make the conversation around your Thanksgiving dinner table a lot more lively this year!

Previously on Political Calculations

References

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Turkeys Raised. [PDF Document]. 30 September 2014.

National Turkey Federation. Sourcebook. [PDF Document]. October 2013.

MSCI. World Stock Market Index Performance. [Online Database]. Accessed 20 November 2014.

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November 25, 2014

In 2014, the early projections indicated that the population of turkeys produced in the United States continued to shrink, with an estimated 235 million turkeys. That's down about 2% from the 240 million that were produced in 2013.

Political Calculations: Number of Turkeys Produced, 1970-2014

That's also the lowest that the population of turkeys produced in the U.S. has been since 1986.

Previously on Political Calculations

References

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Turkeys Raised. [PDF Document]. 30 September 2014.

National Turkey Federation. Sourcebook. [PDF Document]. October 2013.

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November 24, 2014

In 2014, the average live weight of the typical turkey that will be consumed during the Thanksgiving holiday is 30.2 pounds.

Political Calculations: Average Live Weight of Each Turkey Produced, 1970-2014

Compared to the 1970's, when the live weight of turkeys produced in the United States had stagnated at 18.6 pounds per bird, that makes 2014's turkey about 61% heavier. Or about 88% heavier than the typical "heritage" turkey that might be found in the wild!

References

The Poultry Site. USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook - November 2014. [PDF Document]. 17 November 2014.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Turkeys Raised. [PDF Document]. 30 September 2014.

National Turkey Federation. Sourcebook. [PDF Document]. October 2013.

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