CategoryHumor

Mathematically Analyzing “Creep” by Stone Temple Pilots

Last month, when I wrote about some of the changes I was making to my blog this year, I stated how I likely wouldn’t do a post on the final week of each month unless I had something really good or really interesting that I wanted to write about. Thanks to noted physics and cat expert Gregory Gbur on Twitter, I’ve been provided an idea that fits exactly that premise. Before I get to the idea, I’d like to mention that you should pick up his book, Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics, as it combines cats and science. You literally don’t need anything else in a book.

I’ve been a big fan of Stone Temple Pilots — and more specifically, the work of their late lead singer, Scott Weiland — for as long as I can remember. One of the few songs guaranteed to make me happy in most any circumstances is STP’s song “Big Bang Baby“. Another one of Weiland’s projects, Velvet Revolver, provided the background music for the final segment of my college radio show in the form of “Sucker Train Blues“. And the STP ballad “Atlanta” is one of my favorite songs ever, full stop.

In the above tweet though, we’re meant to explore the mathematical implications of the narrator of the song “Creep“, the third single released off of the band’s 1992 album, Core. For those unfamilar with the lyrics, I’ll link out to them here. That said, the line in the song that caused this question goes as follows.

“Well I’m half the man I used to be.”

The line itself is repeated 16 times in the song which should, in theory, make this a pretty simple answer. That said, I believe that there are several potential answers here, thanks in large part to how you choose to view the song from a philosophical standpoint. In this post, I’m going to examine both the mathematical and philosophical answers to drskyskull’s question in an effort to determine what the actual answer to this question is. I’d like to thank math nerd Katie Nevitt for her assistance in double checking my math in this post, as well as her help in firming up some of the scenarios laid out below. With that, we must ask —

What fraction of a man is Scott Weiland by the end of “Creep”?

Straight Forward Answers

1/65536

Let’s begin with one of the two obvious mathematical answers to this question. Within the song, Weiland says he’s half the man he used to be a total of 16 times. Treating this like radioactive half-life, we assume that the first time he says it, Weiland is literally one-half of the man he used to be. The next time, he’s one-quarter of the man he used to be. This continues until the 16th time of decay, at which point he would be 1/65536 the man he used to be. A CDC study conducted from 2011-2014 found that the average American male weighs 195.8 pounds. 1/65536th of that would be approximately .0029 pounds, or about 1.315 grams. That’s about one and one-third paper clips worth of human left.

Semantic Answers

1/2

Let’s go with another fairly obvious answer as the first of our semantics-based answers. As a teen and early-twenty something who was a bit too emo for his own good, I think there’s a chance Weiland is lamenting the same loss of the same half of himself over and over. If this is the case, there’s not a ton of math to be done here. Weiland is merely half the man he used to be. We can easily depict this by the magicians’ trick where they saw a man or woman in half (vertically in this case), and then not put them back together afterward.

1/128 to 1/65536 (variable)

Though Weiland states he’s half the man he used to be sixteen times in the song, there is a bit of a difference as to how each of those times is presented. For seven of those times, there’s no follow up directly to that line. This leads me to believe that he has become half of the man he used to be seven times for sure, which would make him 1/128th the man he used to be. Going once again off of the assumption that the average human male weighs 195.8 pounds, this would mean that Weiland weighs approximately 1.5 pounds at this stage — roughly the equivalent to three-quarters of a pineapple.

As for the other nine times Weiland delivers the line, it is stated thusly.

I’m half the man I used to be
This I feel as the dawn
It fades to gray

The way the lyrics are worded lead me to believe that in these nine instances, the feeling of being half of a man that he once was is temporary (and regular) as a sunrise. If this feeling is treated as an additional half-life to Weiland’s loss of manhood, he’d be down to 1/256 of the man he used to be. That said, the lyrics don’t tell us enough to be confident as to whether this is a one-off loss and reconstitution or whether we must treat each of the losses as individual, cumulative half-lives. As such, I think there’s a possibility that at his best Weiland is 1/128th the man he used to be, though at his lower points, you could argue he’s anywhere from 1/256th to 1/65536th the man he used to be.

99/6553600

As Katie and I were combing through the lyrics of “Creep”, there was a line that stuck out to both of us that could potentially throw a wrench into these calculations.

Take time with a wounded hand
‘Cause it likes to heal

Unfortunately, Weiland doesn’t give any additional clarification on the severity of the hand injury in question here. For ease of calculation, we’re going to make a worst-case scenario assumption and say that the wounded hand is actually the full loss of that hand. And it is just one hand, as it’s singular in the lyrics. One study conducted found that the average surface area of the hand can be best estimated to be approximately 1% of the total body. Meanwhile, a different study found that a hand weighs a little over 0.57% of the average human’s body weight…though I found that particular study dubious because every time I tried to access the place that wrote it directly, my computer kept throwing security risk errors. So let’s go with the 1% number for ease of math and not giving my computer a virus.

Let’s take our initial mathematical calculation and say that Weiland is 1/65536th the man he used to be by the end of the song. We’ll then take away 1% of his body weight further from there, which leaves us with the incredibly unwieldy fraction of 99/6553600ths of the man he used to be. At this point, things are just getting silly. We must go further.

Other Possible Answers

1/1

At no point in the song does Weiland state that he isn’t a whole man at the end of the song. All he says is that he’s half of the man he used to be. We cannot prove that Weiland wasn’t singing about Voltron, as Weiland sadly passed away in 2015 from a drug overdose. That said, unless the song is being sung by a sentient portion of pineapple or floating vocal cords, I feel pretty good in saying that the singer of the song is, in fact, a whole person.

This begs the question then — just how many men was Weiland at the beginning of the song? If we go the lamenting of loss route I mentioned before, this would imply that he was two people at the start of the song. Despite my searching the internet, I couldn’t find any record of Scott Weiland having absorbed a twin in the womb, so I think this option is safe to rule out.

By this logic, you would think that the implication that Weiland was 65,536 men at the beginning of the song is equally unlikely, math, biology, and the universe as we currently understand it would all seem to agree with that statement. But my counterargument to that is this: I don’t care. We cannot disprove that Weiland was not part of a hive mind.

That said, I believe the most likely way to end the song as a whole man for Weiland goes back to the point we addressed in the last section of this post, that of the wounded hand. We’ll again assume that the loss of the wounded hand is literal, if only because of the imagery surrounding it. Though the loss of a hand would cause a loss of mass from the human body, as well as one percent of the surface area, it would be incorrect to assume that the loss of a limb would make anyone less of a human. We can then assume that Weiland is mourning the loss of his hand, but I want to assure him that he’s still a whole man to us.

Conclusion

With all of these factors considered, exactly what fraction of a man is Scott Weiland by the end of “Creep”? Mathematically, I think the answer is pretty simple. He’s 1/65536th the man he used to be. But if you dissect the lyrics and consider exactly what’s being said throughout the song, I think the answer is much less clear. I’m personally in the hive mind camp, but your mileage may vary. Regardless of how you look at it, just go listen to some STP.

My Pokemon Gym: Equipment

I’ve spent a few posts talking about what my Pokemon gym would look like if I used different types of Pokemon as my specialty. It’s a theme I enjoy so much that I’ll be giving you yet another installment in the series tomorrow. That said, as I was writing tomorrow’s post, I came to a startling realization. I’ve written three1Well, two at that point. Three now. posts about what Pokemon I’d use in each of my single-type Pokemon gyms, yet I haven’t mentioned once what kind of equipment I’d have in my gym. It is a gym after all. And what’s a gym without the ability to get swole?

As is the case with the rest of the Pokemon gym series posts, I’ll have a six deep team, full with items, abilities, and moves. Images are from Pexels unless otherwise noted.

Door

Steve Johnson

No gym — or building for that matter — team is worth trotting out without a gatekeeper to lead off your team. And for that, I have a door. Doors keep the heat or cold in depending on the time of year. You can lock them to keep intruders out. You can prop them to ensure steady flow of customers. Doors are a fantastic way to introduce your team.

Ability: Literally being a door (prevents opponent from using priority moves if Close or Slam was used last by door)
Item: Squeaky Hinge (sound based moves have a 10% chance of flinching the opponent)
Moves: Open, Close, Clopen2A mix between closed and open., Slam

Treadmill

William Choquette

Like running but hate nature? Have you ever wanted to feel like a hamster but get vertigo at the idea of using a wheel or ball to run? Try treadmills. They’re all the fun of running without the unnecessary distraction of scenery.

Ability: Maintenance Mode (treadmill will randomly stop working for 1-15 turns when you need it the most)
Item: Pulse Monitor (item stops functioning as soon as you equip it)
Moves: Extreme Speed, Extreme Slow, Extreme Incline, Team Xtreme

Water Fountain

Artem Bali

Once you get tired from all that running, you might want to cool down with a refreshing beverage. And while some fancy gym leaders might use a vending machine, I’m all about the water fountain life. Water fountains are a bit of a mystery (which is part of their appeal). What color is the water that comes out going to be? It’s a surprise! The pressure of the water will also catch you off guard, as the water will either barely trickle out of the fountain or it’ll hit someone in the next zip code. It’s like a spontaneous blind date, only with the added risk of cholera.

Ability: Variable Height (water fountain will always be at a height that will require you to bend over awkwardly to use it)
Item: Queue (item always forces the user to wait on everyone else before attacking)
Moves: Bubble, Cloudy Water, Weak Stream, Loose Handle

Overenthusiastic Gym Patron

Anush Gorak

AHHHHHHHHH! HOOOOOOOOOOOOO! OH YEAH! DO YOU SEE THAT? DO YOU SEE IT BRO? LOOK AT THAT VEIN! IT’S SICK, BRO. THAT’S MY THIRD VEIN POPPED THIS WEEK! YOU WANT A PROTEIN SHAKE? I’VE GOT CHOCOLATE COOKIE AND CARAMEL DREAM. NO? SUIT YOURSELF, BRO. AHHHHHHHHHH! HOOOOOO! GO BUCKS!

Ability: Big Voice (sound moves are six times louder than they need to be and may cause flinching)
Item: College T-Shirt (allows user to be nostalgic about an institution they’ve never attended)
Moves: Growl, Grunt, Sick Gains, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Elliptical

Pixabay

This notoriously low impact machine has gained a reputation for only being used in classes led by overly enthusiastic college grads and people going through mid-life crises, but it’s more fun than you’d expect. Much like the treadmill is meant to replace running, the elliptical is meant to replace cartoon running. Could you imagine how good Daffy Duck would be as a personal trainer running a spin class?

Ability: Personal Trainer (Elliptical will become 1 stage faster per each opposing Elliptical in horde battles)
Item: Neverending Spiral (holding this item will cause you to feel like you’re going somewhere, even though you’re not moving)
Moves: Fire Spin, Leg Spin, Spinny Spin, Ohgodwhenwillthisend?

Barbells and Dumbbells

Victor Freitas

Hehehehehhehehe. Dumbbells.

Ability: Set Weight (barbells and dumbbells are immune to moves that impact their weight)
Item: Try Hard (equipping this item will cause the user to always look like they’re trying hard)
Moves: Clank, Clang, Clanggityclang, Rollout

Happy April Fools Day, all. Real content will be posted tomorrow.

What Your Favorite Type of Pie Says About You

I love pie. Pie is everything cake wants to be without all of the disappointment of being terrible 30 minutes after you cut it. When people ask me what kind of cake I want for my birthday, I say ice cream cake. But when they tell me ice cream cake is too expensive, I say I want pie. And because my birthday is close to Thanksgiving, nearly every year someone obliges.

Everyone has their own favorite kind of pie. I’m a fan of pecan myself. But did you know that your favorite pie can tell other people a lot about you1It can’t.?

It can’t2Nope.?

You’re saying I’m just using Buzzfeed-like listicle science to get you to keep reading3Yes. Stop it, Tim. You’re better than this.?

Have you had pie4Well, yes. But that’s not the point.?

Well then come along on a journey wherein I help you learn what your favorite kind of pie says about you5Goddammit..

Cherry Pie

You’re a simple person who enjoys simple pleasures. You love how a warm, flaky, buttery crust tastes when it’s pressed up against tart cherries encased in a sweet, sticky sauce. You also giggle when someone mentions pie because you listened to too much Warrant and wanted to sample the People’s Strudel. You’re straightforward, yet complex. Just like this classic pie.

Pecan Pie

You love Thanksgiving and you’re not ashamed to admit it. In fact, you’re so unashamed of your love for Thanksgiving that you’re more than willing to tell your dentist that the reason your temporary crown broke for the third time in six weeks is because you managed to get your hands on a pecan pie not only for your birthday, but also for Thanksgiving. Black Friday visits to the dentist are so fun. Wait. What was I talking about again?

Rhubarb Pie

You’ve been lost in the wilderness for 16 years and are trying to readjust to society. As someone who has been in society for the last 16 years, I can promise you’re better off not knowing what’s going on out here.

Lemon Meringue Pie

On the outside, you’ve got a bubbly, airy personality. People want to be you because you look like you have the most glamorous life. On the inside, you’re a mess of all the ingredients that went into making your what you are today — and you’re not sure if the sum of all the parts is better than the ingredients by themselves. On the plus side, you’re awesome at making small children cry.

Apple Pie

You’re an American and you love your country. You want nothing more than baseball, Coca-Cola, and a hot dog after a long day at the business factory. Like America, your pie could be improved by being Dutch. And even if you know there could be better alternatives out there to your hobbies or favorite pie, you stick with what you know. Because you dislike change. And the Dutch.

Pumpkin Pie

Your favorite pie is Cool Whip.

Banana Cream Pie

You’re health conscious, but you love to indulge from time to time. You want to find the best of both worlds between taste and restraint. You want to integrate more fruit into your diet, but you hate the texture of berries and the smell of citrus fruit. You own stock in Nilla Wafers and loved Bananas in Pajamas. Above all, you’re confused why some pies have top crusts.

Key Lime Pie

You like your coffee black, your chili spicy, and your beer ice cold. If food could punch you in the face, you’d welcome it with open arms, then suplex it the fuck over your head for trying. One day, you plan to retire to a small fishing village in Spain where you can harpoon your own octopus for breakfast. You’re also very confused why anyone would waste a lime on tequila when there’s pie to make.

Pot Pie

You’re not a fan of sweet food, but are smart enough to know rhubarb tastes like a leather sandal in a slimy mud puddle feels. You may have your preferences to filling — be it chicken, turkey, veggies, or beef — but you just want the sugar kept as far away as possible. You think a tomato is a vegetable and will politely debate anyone who thinks otherwise. Your middle child is named Gravy.

Empanadas

You like pie but don’t own a fork or spoon. Either that or the business factory made your life very stressful and you have to eat your lunch at your desk. I should really look into getting some empanadas for work.

Peach Pie

You love everything about peaches except for the fuzzy outer skin. At birthday parties, you’re the person who walks up to the magician after their show and tries to show them your magic tricks. You have a Super Mario Brothers fetish, but only a little bit. Your iPhone actively suggests the peach emoji to you when you type butt.

W(h)oopie Pie

You don’t understand what pie is. Please reload your page and try again6To those unfamiliar with woopie pie, it’s essentially two pieces of cake and some icing or marshmallow fluff made into a sandwich. It’s a cake..

Moravian Chicken Pie

While your brother/sister/cousin named their middle child Gravy, you were busy going to culinary school and getting your degree in saucery. You don’t think of gravy as a topping for mashed potatoes, but an art form meant to be shared with all of humanity. You’re likely from North Carolina and have never left the state. Colonel Sanders once sued your grandmother.

Flan

Okay…that’s neither a pie nor a tart…but it’s part of the same pastry family. So…sure. Why not. Flan’s delicious. Your blood alcohol content is 65% caramel color. House eggings upset you because it’s a waste of good food. You spent one semester in Spain and now all of your friends want to kill you in your sleep because you keep pronouncing Zaragoza with a ‘th’ in it.

Pi

Okay, smart ass.

Pinkie Pie

I mean, probably best pony7The Great and Powerful Trixie is also an acceptable answer here.. But not pie.

Pizza Pie

Again, not a pie.

Cookie Cake Pie

Now you’re just listing three desserts in a row to see if I’ll buy it8This is actually a pie. I’m just as shocked as you are. But I’ve never had it, so I can’t comment..

Cheesecake

No. Wait…actually, that is a tart, so that works. You consider yourself to be so adventurous, but have bought the same brand of white bread for 37 years. You’re really into telling people that you’re Taurus-Gemini Cusp any time the month of May comes up in conversation. Your favorite alcohol is rubbing and your favorite dehumidifier setting is Sahara. The best way to eat ice cream to you is to pick all of the chunks out and to leave the creamy parts in the carton for everyone else.

Chess Pie

How are you even reading this? Your favorite pie is literally baked sugar and butter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing. But you can only have one piece every ten years or you’ll go into a coma. Chess pie is a family event because feeding one pie to your entire extended family is the only way to avoid mass casualties. The bottle of corn syrup you’re hallucinating is telling you to chill the fuck out with the sugar.

Blueberry Pie

You’re just happy to be included.