Friday, December 16, 2016
Thanks for proving 2

RCS mentions an intentionally silly study on occupational efficiency by a Swedish researcher.
As many as ten million hotel bathrooms are cleaned each and every day, and in a significant portion, cleaning staff are required to fold the toilet paper roll, assuring guests that the bathroom is clean and ready to use. In more ritzy hotels, staff even leave behind elaborate, artistic designs. Ljung questions how necessary this task really is.

"Is it really defendable and appropriate that someone else has spent time on folding the toilet paper you are just about to use?" he writes.

Recognizing this wasted work, Ljung estimated how much time is spent folding toilet paper in hotels each and every year. Recruiting his two kids as co-authors ... Ljung clocked sixty attempts to fold a basic toilet paper design (shown below). The average folding time was 5.73 seconds. Ljung then multiplied that time by an estimate of the number of hotel cleanings performed each day to approximate the number of hours hotel staff all over the world spend folding toilet paper each year. The range was 3.8 million to 14.2 million hours!
1. You're not entitled to ask whether it's "defendable". The fancy hotels know that their customers like it. If their customers didn't like it, they'd stop doing it. Hotel management is sensitive to feedback. Researchers are not.

2. Doing the fold by itself is unrealistic, and your kids will not do it efficiently. You should have asked a hotel manager how much time it ADDS to the overall room-prep time. The manager already knows, or would be willing to stopwatch an expert maid for precision.

2a. I'm not totally sure of this, but I'd bet \$50 that the maids enjoy adding a little art to their routine job, and compete with each other for the best-looking result. More art = bigger tip.

3. Multiplying by all hotels is really really stupid. Only the top few hotels, maybe a few hundred in the world, play this game. You can be EXTREMELY SURE that the Patel Motel in Anytown USA would fire a maid who tried this trick.

4. Thus the better question is: Why would a researcher waste his own time and his university's time by doing a study so transparently poor, with so many obvious mistakes?

Easy answer: Because that's the standard in top-notch fancy "science". Fancy hotels expect and enforce artistic and efficient performance. Fancy "science" expects bottom-quality shit.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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