Linda gave us the word “mean,” another one of those useful words because it has so many meanings. One of them is “cruel,” of course. A good example of being mean would be making a person sit and watch the late comedian Jim Varney, whose stage alias was Ernest P. Worrell and whose catch phrase was “Knowhutimean (Know what I mean), Vern?”
I didn’t realize that he had created that character long before the first time I saw him, which was probably on a commercial that aired during a Braves game on WTBS in 1988 or 1989. Maybe for Goody’s Headache Powders, I’m not sure. That would be a good pairing, because seeing him gave me a headache.
Another way I could be mean would be to try and explain the Mean Value Theorem, but I won’t, mostly because I learned it when I took calculus in 1973-74 and haven’t given it much thought since. Didn’t give it much thought then, either.
I was much better in statistics, where the mean is a measure of the centrality of values in a population. It’s kind of like an arithmetic average, which is calculated by adding up the values of all the values in a set (say drive times to the office) and dividing by the number of values. So, let’s say I’m trying to figure out how much time it takes to get to the office, and that in one week it was 60, 65, 72, 55 and 62 minutes. The average would be (60+65+72+55+62)/5, or 62.8 minutes. I could use this weekly average as an estimate of the mean of all drives to the office, in which case 62.8 is a sample mean. The median is another measure of centrality: I arrange the values in numerical order (55, 60, 62, 65, 72) and pick the one in the middle. In this case, the median is 62, pretty close to the average of 62.8.
There are other kinds of means. One is the geometric mean, where, rather than adding the numbers together and dividing by the count, you multiply the numbers and take the nth root of them, where n is the number of numbers you multiplied together. In our example, it’s (60x65x72x55x62)1/5, or 62.55. The harmonic mean is the number of observations times the inverse of the sum of the inverses. in our example, it’s 5/(1/60 + 1/65 + 1/72 + 1/55 + 1/62), or 62.3.
They all have their uses. In this case, I’m using them to be mean.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday is broght to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word about Dow Bathroom Cleaner, with “Scrubbing Bubbles.” They work hard so you don’t have to!
The voice of the lead Scrubbing Bubble is provided by the late, great Paul Winchell.