Political Calculations
Unexpectedly Intriguing!
November 24, 2017

It's the age old American dilemma of what to do with the remains of the bird following the Thanksgiving holiday, while not doing any more to continue sending your Body Mass Index in the wrong direction. This year, we're featuring Cooking Light's recipe suggestions for what to do with all that's left behind!

Turkey burnout is insidious. One minute your bird is beautiful and fragrant, floating majestically to the table, its crisp skin glistening. You could eat every last bite all by yourself. But in a twinkling―or, to be exact, after a couple of servings―the feast loses its luster. By the time the candles have been snuffed, the good china put away, and the wine glasses washed, what's left of your 20-pounder looks like just one more responsibility. Worse, the week ahead looms with the dreary prospects of turkey hash, turkey supreme, and turkey a la king. For a moment, you consider getting a really big dog.

Not to sound unsympathetic, but snap out of it! Strip that bird straightaway with a sharp knife, and quickly refrigerate the white and dark meat in separate airtight containers (for up to five days or freeze for up to two months). Don't labor over the bones and fatty "parson's nose," telling yourself you'll boil them down into soup stock―you know you won't be in the mood for that anytime soon. Toss 'em, and be done with it. Feel better? You should. You've cleared the slate for a fresh approach to this versatile, forgiving meat and stocked a ready-to-use supply.

These recipes give your leftovers a new life, without ever resorting to a turkey-noodle surprise.

Thanksgiving Leftovers in Containers - Source: City of Portland, Oregon - https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/510411

Cooking Light's recipe suggestions include:

And of course, we would be remiss if we didn't pass along the FoodSafety.gov's instructions for how to safely handle all the leftovers. Enjoy!

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November 23, 2017
Thanksgiving Dinner - Source: Centers for Disease Control Public Health Matters Blog - https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2015/11/8867/

For many Americans, Thanksgiving dinner might be the single largest, most calorie-laden meal that they consume all year. And since 36% of American adults and 17% of American youths would qualify as obese according to the Centers for Disease Control, a large number of Americans would benefit from some preplanning for what they'll eat during Thanksgiving dinner.

That's why this year, we're introducing a tool to help you add up calories that you might consume from a traditional Thanksgiving menu *before* you even sit down to begin this year's feast, using data from the USDA's Food Composition Database.

To use it, you just need to indicate the number of servings for each menu item that you'll be consuming at this year's Thanksgiving. Then just click the "Calculate" button to estimate how many calories your body will need to process! (If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click here to access a working version of the tool at our site.

Items from a Traditional Thanksgiving Menu
Proteins Servings
Turkey (Breast Meat) - 3 oz serving
Turkey (Thigh/Leg Meat) - 3 oz serving
Side Dishes Servings
Turkey Gravy - 1/2 cup serving
Mashed Potatoes - 1 cup serving
Candied Yams - 1 cup serving
Bread Stuffing - 2 cup serving
Cranberry Sauce - 1/2 cup serving
Brussel Sprouts - 1 cup serving
Broccoli Spears - 4 oz serving
Extras Servings
Mixed Nuts - 1/2 cup serving
Dinner Roll - 1 oz serving
Butter or Margarine - 1 tablespoon serving
Desserts Servings
Apple Pie - 1/8 of 9-inch pie serving
Pumpkin Pie - 1 slice - 4 oz serving
Pecan Pie - 1 slice ~ 4 oz serving
Beverages Servings
Wine - 5 oz serving

Thanksgiving Meal Calories
Calculated Results Values
Estimated Calories

Playing with the tool, you'll quickly find that the biggest hitters are the dessert items, where having slices of apple, pumpkin *and* pecan pie will easily spike the calorie count for your Thanksgiving meal by more than 1,000 calories.

You should also keep an eye on your bread stuffing, candied yam and mixed nut consumption, since these items aren't far behind. Please also note that Green Bean Casserole does not appear on this menu. That is not an accidental omission - we believe that green bean casserole is just wrong, where it doesn't belong on any table, anywhere, ever.

There's just one more thing to consider, and that's how our Thanksgiving meal calorie estimate compares with the USDA's estimates of the daily calorie requirements for someone of your age and activity level. As you may have found from using our tool, it's a very easy thing for a Thanksgiving meal to exceed an entire day's worth of calories.

Hopefully, this tool has provided you with the information that you need to have all the tasty goodness that you want in reasonably sized servings at this year's feast. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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November 22, 2017

Want to know how many turkeys were raised on U.S. farms and where those farms are?

You've come to the right place! First up, the following chart shows how many millions of U.S. turkeys have populated U.S. farms in each year from 1970 through 2017.

Number of Turkeys Produced on U.S. Farms, 1970-2017

The following map indicates the 14 states in which nearly 88% of those turkeys lived in 2016!

Are you ready to meet this year's flock?

U.S. Farm-Raised Turkeys - Source: https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2017/nov/

Just in case you came to this post searching for information about the population or demographics of Turkey, well, go here instead....

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November 21, 2017

Some key statistics about U.S. farm-raised turkeys in 2017:

  • Turkeys breed in the spring, their twenty-eight-week growth cycle coinciding perfectly with Thanksgiving.
  • Turkey consumption has grown from 6.4 pounds/person in 1960 to 16.8 pounds/person in 2017.
  • Pound for pound, turkey is the least expensive meat and is a low-fat meat alternative to beef and pork.
  • We eat more than 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving.
  • The average weight of a turkey is now over 30 pounds; it was 15 pounds in 1930.
  • Turkeys have been transformed by breeding into a fast-growing bird, efficiently converting feed to food.
  • Turkeys are so large they require artificial insemination to reproduce.
  • Industrial turkey production is year-round, producing turkey bacon, sausage, burgers and those large turkey legs found at Disney World.
  • Industrialization has problems, such as stressing the animals, who no longer regulate their food intake and mimic us, overeating too often. Their deaths may be humane but remain disturbing to those (sub)urbanites who remain disconnected from their sources of food.

Those stats are a little outdated - the preliminary data that we have from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that the average live weight of a farm-raised turkey in the United States is now a little over 31 pounds (14 kg) in 2017.

Average Live Weight of Each U.S. Farm-Raised Turkey Produced, 1970-2016, with Preliminary Data for 2017

Which brings up a question that perhaps should now be asked: "What is the biological limit for how big a turkey can get?"

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November 20, 2017

It's Thanksgiving Week 2017, and here at Political Calculations, that means that we'll be devoting the whole week to exploring the centerpiece of this uniquely American holiday in keeping with our annual traditions.

But that doesn't mean that we won't be discussing things like the stock market either - we'll just be loading it up with a healthy serving of Thanksgiving turkey.

Let's get started by doing just that, where we'll update the chart showing our favorite spurious correlation of all time - the apparent relationship that exists between the average live weight of U.S. farm-raised turkeys and world stock prices. The following chart updates that relationship through this point of time in 2017!

Spurious Correlation: Average Live Weight of U.S. Farm-Raised Turkeys and Annual Average of MSCI World Stock Market Index, 1970 - 2017(YTD)

If you're the type of person who believes that they can divine the future from any synchronous patterns you identify on charts showing apparently strongly correlated data like this - and the correlation here is indeed strong with an R² of 0.9717 - you should be very worried about the potential for a stock market crash in the near term, seeing as the chart shows that every time that the MSCI world stock index has risen higher than the proportionately scaled average live weight of U.S. farm-raised turkeys, a major correction hasn't been far behind.

We'll also tell you that even after detrending the data to account for the rising linear trends for both data series, the correlation doesn't disappear as you might suspect would happen for a fully spurious correlation. Instead, the R² drops to 0.5315, which might be considered to be a moderately-strong correlation.

And yet, we're happy to confirm that the apparent correlation is genuinely spurious. It's total garbage - the growth of the average weight of turkeys raised on farms in the U.S. is not, in any way that we can identify, connected to the growth of global stock prices.

If you want proof of how worthless this apparent relationship is, just consider that we first featured the spurious correlation between the average live weight of U.S. farm-raised turkeys and global stock prices back in 2014 - and as yet, the major sustained correction in stock prices that would seem to be imminent from this apparent relationship has not occurred.

So when you see charts showing these kinds of seemingly-correlated relationships, take them with a strong grain of salt! You should, at the very least, be able to identify some connection that logically links the two data series being compared. Without such a connection, you're likely just looking at something that, while it might be fun to consider, probably doesn't have much bearing upon or connection to the real world.

Speaking of which, since we've opened the door, if you're reading this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed that also allows comments, plese share your links to examples of fun-but-false correlations. At the very least, the exercise might help you avoid the social disaster minefield that you would find yourself in if you're foolish enough to start talking up politics at this year's Thanksgiving feast by arming you with better and more interesting discussion topics.

Update: If you like puzzles and would like to take on an extra challenge over the holiday, you might consider looking into our detrending observation, where the trends that need to be subtracted from both series to properly detrend them are perhaps not linear ones!

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About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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