Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Law v. Russian literature

Politifact, my amusement for the evening states:
... a Nov. 19, 2009, news release, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that the 2,074-page bill was "longer than Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace ."
We decided to see if he was right.

As for the bill, we cut and pasted it into a Microsoft Word document and found that the bill contained 384,067 words. Just to make sure that Word wasn't choking on such a large file, we did a sampling of word counts on individual pages, then multiplied the typical one-page count by the total number of pages in our Word document. The single pages we checked tended to have a bit fewer than 300 words per page in Word. So, with our document running to 1,372 pages -- shrinkage that illuminates how spread-out the text of the Senate bill is -- we came up with a ballpark estimate of 411,000 words.

So while Hatch is right if you simply count pages, when you use a more accurate comparison -- the number of words -- War and Peace is actually longer. In other words, he is right by one measurement, but not by the best measurement. So it turns out that Democrats aren't as wordy as a Russian novelist. Who knew?


1 comment:

ccyager said...

And isn't that just like a politician, too -- right by one measurement, wrong by another?