July 24, 2013

All Your Base Are Belong to Bell Curve: Graphing the World

by Gordon

And now, a return to sciencey goodness: the endless joy of graphing. Or rather, the joy of graphing that peaks at a certain optimal number of graphs, and drops off with increasing rapidity below or above that number. This is tricky business! - in essence, semantic calculus: extrapolating the relationship of two dynamic variables, at least one of which is usually complex and problematic (e.g. your happiness, your chance of being a circus performer). I hope my high school math teachers will appreciate this.

First up, some newer graphs (since some of these already appeared on spacebook). Let's start with improvising musicians:

That dip at the left is because if you play a solo with only one or two notes, you're either Wayne Shorter, or at least someone with overwhelming musical cojones.

This also applies to pink skinny jeans.

I haven't heard any one-word announcements myself yet, but almost all the possibilities are bad ones (FIRE! No! Run!!!). Incidentally, this graph is a quite handy for that common situation in which you can't make out the actual words of an announcement, but can hear something. Six-ish words you couldn't understand? - Probably just the next station. Sixty-ish words? - Start counting your cash for taxis.

For examples of actual subway announcements, see this earlier post.

Of course if you're a dog, all bets are off.

OK, OK, drawing, tracing, whatever. I'm just into ellipses, OK??


Some of you may ask, what type of graph is this? It's the FUCK YOU type. And technically, it's a connectionist network.

In this careful construction, there are many interesting things that stand out:
  • Although SHIT is a popular building block, it is always a prefix, never a suffix. (Can you think of one? 'Dumb shit' is two words.)
  • ASS is the most versatile as both prefix and suffix (it goes both ways??).
  • The most popular strict suffixes are BAG and WAD - perhaps because they are vaguely-defined and hence symbolically versatile shapes?
  • Though we have a wealth of terms for body parts, the only commonly used in compound curses are HEAD, FACE, ASS, and variations of the male, but not female, genitals.
  • Although the two terms used here for male genitals are both four-letter, and even share two of their four letters, they cannot be interchanged in compounds.
  • The orphan couple of the collection, with neither element used elsewhere, is the classic MOTHER --> FUCKER.
[*UPDATE: See the new post Revised 'Compound Curse Words' Network Graph for a massive update to this graph!]


Care about what? Care about anything.

Notice that your mom is already a little funny before I've started drinking.

A fifth line, not shown to the right of the ones here, is how funny your mom's face is.


The power of amazingly bad > amazingly good. So, statistically speaking, if I say "that was amazing" after your performance, you should worry.

If you understand this graph and why it's fractal, we ought to be friends.

Following a dance, you generally catch your breath, then want to dance again. If too much time passes, however, you lose interest. Then further down the line, you're reminded of how much you miss dancing, and the desire to dance again assaults you in ever-growing waves.

Try me!

Don't ask.

And where are you along the line right now? (Just a few more; don't worry.)

Some sample points:
A) "Can you unload the dishwasher?"
B) Should update website.
C) "Did you get health insurance yet?"
D) "They're gonna be here ANY SECOND!!"
E) Eh, what the hell.

Where are you now?

Finally: there's a happy medium, an optimum, for most everything (else). For example, in X-to-Y format:
  • how pretty she is : how happy you'll be
  • how much ice cream you've eaten : how good your tummy feels
  • # of curse words in sentence : seriousness of threat
  • size of genitals : satisfaction with partners
  • how energetic you are : how many friends you have
  • # of letters in someone's name : chance you will forget it
  • how talkative a child is : how cute it is

I'm sure you can think of many more fine examples. Truly, all your base are belong to bell curve.

Bell curve FTW.

Let them eat bell curve.


Steve wrote me and said:
After I spread this post around the office.. this is what we all agreed upon, and now it's on our wall:

GORDON: Steve, that is AMAZING. So you've determined the llamas increase productivity up to a certain point, but then it plateaus? In econ-speak, the marginal utility of llamas decreases? And has anyone ever written that sentence before?
STEVE: Gordon, I'm glad we understand each other; yes, after a while the over-saturation of llama content occurs.

Steve and co-workers FTW! Thank you!


  1. I declare this post "successfully humorous." Also, dipshit uses shit as a suffix.

    1. YES - thank you, Josie! Please see the updated Compound Curse Words graph in this post: http://pwuth.blogspot.com/2013/07/revised-compound-curse-words-network.html

  2. This post gave us a good chuckle at work, glad you found our collective response update-worthy.