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Christmas: Santa, Statistically

7
Posted December 20, 2012 by Rú Hickson in Ramp Specials
santa

Santa has a tricky job, don’t you know? All those kids. All those parents. Getting to all those people who don’t know about him. Just think how he circles the entire planet in a single day, across volcanos and glaciers, being tracked by NORAD each year and maintaining his belly from a regular intake of reindeer milk, cookies and fresh venison.

But here at Ramp, it’s not enough for us to just know what Santa does, we need to know how he does it. How many presents does he have in that bag? Just how many people get what they want each year? How does he track who’s been naughty and who’s been nice? Does he replace his reindeer with the frequency of the collie in the Lassie films? How unsatisfied is Mrs. Santa by her husband’s tireless work schedule? Or maybe Santa’s gay and is living in a civil partnership with someone like the “late” J. Edgar Hoover or Pete Postlethwaite? These are the hard questions you had from your youth that now need answering. We’re happy to oblige.

To begin: some numbers! Estimating that there are approximately 7 billion people on the planet, 2.2 billion of which are Christians expecting deliveries because Santa is first and foremost a discriminatory jerk, roughly 760 million of which are under the age of 20. We are ignoring everyone else because Santa feels anyone older than that can buy their own bloody presents. With a worldwide average of 1.8 children per house, that means Old Red has some 422 million houses to visit in his 24 hour flight. To do this, he needs to maintain an average speed of 718,639 kilometres per hour (taking into account the curvature of the earth, time spent in population centres, not crossing the Pacific Ocean), or approximately 0.24 times the speed of light. Let’s increase that to 0.25 to give Santa an extra 151 seconds per hour to enter houses, deliver, eat cookies/drink milk and exit.

Traditionally, Santa Claus enters and exits a building by its chimney, but seeing as 50% of first-world homes are now built without a chimney, Santa Claus has to find an alternative method of entering those houses, probably by means of a catflap/doggydoor, entering through an open window or, most likely, breaking and entering. Because of this, Santa is responsible for a remarkable 200 million crimes at Christmastime, well intentioned though they may be, putting him above even the notorious Prawo Jazdy.

Now let’s break down those presents! Fellow sexy pop culture and intrigue site The Chive has handily compiled a list of the most popular presents each year since 1980. We will take a collection of packaged Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle dolls from 1990 as our standard gift and estimate the size of Santa’s sack from that. If half the children on his list have been good, the dimensions of a packaged TMNT doll times 380 million recipients equals a whopping 291,840 metres cubed to put in a bag. But let’s not stop there, for Santa also delivers coal to bad children. Assuming he uses a different bag (because what good little readers out there ever received a coal-covered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?) for the fist-sized lumps of coal, and using the same calculations, the ‘bad’ bag would have to hold 167,960 metres cubed (~60,000 tons) of coal.

Acquiring that much coal per year is no problem, as helpfully demonstrated by this Polish mine’s supply website, but manufacturing 380,000,000 toys (more than a million a day) is no small task. Reports of numbers of elves on Santa’s production line are sketchy at best, but whatever their output per employee/slave labourer, it puts pretty much every third-world sweatshop to shame. Between his two sacks, Santa would be carrying a combined weight of 280000 tonnes in and a volume of 459,800 cubic metres. For comparison, that’s around the weight of 3182 Boeing 747 jets in the space of 143 Olympic swimming pools. You could fit 1144 Michael Phelps comfortably swimming about in that space.

Father Christmas famously has 9 reindeer but, let’s be honest here, since the earliest estimated date of the death of the original Saint Nick in AD 326, and taking the average healthy lifespan of each stag to be 16 years between sexual maturity and old age, that number is far closer to 949, not including accidents or deaths from exhaustion (a highly probable scenario, given the extreme pressure put on the reindeers’ hearts). The amount of energy needed to pull 280,000 metric tons of presents around a quarter of the speed of light would require 7.875e+25 Joules, or enough energy to launch more than 20 trillion space shuttles into space (or 100 quintillion septillionths of the energy in the universe, if you’re into that sort of thing). One would guess that Santa has gone through more reindeer than Russian gulags have prisoners. By comparison, but also rather impressively, if Santa receives 6 cookies and 1 glass of milk per household, he will consume in calories 9% of the energy needed to launch a space shuttle. That’s a whole new kind of fat.

[A paragraph about Mr. Santa Claus' sexuality, private life and identity of his live-in partner has been removed due to potentially harmful misleading speculation, however accurate it may have been under Arctic Circle Privacy Law, Article 12, Page 399, Paragraph 2, Addendum 3a. We thank the helpful committee at LaplandLibelLawyers4U for their expedient work in contacting us about this potentially damaging claim. As a precaution, the author of this article has been taken out back and shot. He's our dog, so we'll put him down.]

So there you have it! Santa’s job is as astounding as it is unlikely. Some say you have to believe in him. We say he exists! And that he’s a diabetic, relativity-defying, J. E[redacted]oover-spooning entity who practices in modern slavery and reindeer genocide, and is responsible for more felonies in a single day than the entire USA can manage in two decades. All hail our bulbous, red overlord! And remember that every single day for the rest of your life, while you sleep, while you eat, while you poo: he’s judging you and watching you.

Happy Christmas!


About the Author

Rú Hickson

Despite initial wealth, Ru bankrupted himself by acquiring every existing second-hand copy of Duke Nukem Forever and placing it in a pile he uses for the express purposes of urinating onto and crying over in an unhealthy, but surprisingly therapeutic, downward spiral.

  • Sinéad

    This is amazing, Rú Hickson!

  • http://www.landigan.com/ Landigan

    More TMZ-style goss and slander about the personal lives of mythical demigods on Ramp, please.

  • http://www.redlemonade.blogspot.com/ Kitty Catastrophe

    DEADLY POST.

  • http://twitter.com/powertara Tara Power

    I feel dizzy.

  • http://twitter.com/notRuairi Rú Hickson

    I can’t believe no one noticed that’s actually a pug in a reindeer outfit!

    • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

      Bullshit! That’s a reindeer and you know it!

  • http://twitter.com/Fearganainim Fearganainim

    Ho! Ho! Ho!

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