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Work in the media? Struggle with statistics? Stan's irreverent (and often irrelevant) review of the latest media reports, news and gossip may not help at all... Stan the Statistician

Stan # 10: More coincidences ... and a painful ending 25 March 1998

I was totally underwhelmed by the response to the Kennedy/Lincoln coincidences (see my last column), so here are some more which passed over my desktop recently.

Last year, a student from Salisbury lost his wristwatch while dancing in a Jersey (Channel Islands) nightclub. Two months later, he and a friend were waiting at Basingstoke railway station and struck up a conversation with two girls. He asked one of them the time and remarked that the watch was just like one he had lost. The girl replied, "Is your name Nick Coombes?" It was indeed the missing watch engraved with his name, which she had found in the nightclub.

Not impressed? Well, In the Autumn of 1996, Roger Nussbaumer, President of a furniture manufacturing business in America, was leafing through a mail order catalogue. While ordering a military field watch over the telephone, out of nostalgia, he decided to buy an army coat, cap and rucksack. When the cap arrived, he found it had 'R. Nussbaumer, Co. 3, Troop 1' on the name tag in his own handwriting. It was the cap he had surrendered in 1970 when he left the Swiss Army. The mail order firm had made a large purchase from the Swiss Army in the Spring of 1995, including 3,000 Swiss alpine caps. These had been individually bagged making it nearly impossible for anyone in the Company to have matched Nussbaumer's name with his cap. And why would anyone want to go to such trouble?

"Newspapers seem unable to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation." - George Bernard Shaw.

"Good taste is an utterly dispensible part of any journalist's equipment." - Michael Hogg.

"Journalism is organised gossip." - Edward Eggleston.

"What the f--- was that?" - Mayor of Hiroshima.

What was the first programme to be transmitted by ITV (UK) (after the opening ceremony)? Answers next time.

1% of couples aged between 25 and 34, 2% of 35-44s and 10% of 45-59s stay together but don't have sex - at least not with each other - according to the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.

17 million Brits now go night time shopping, defined as after 10.00 pm, according to a study conducted by Sample Surveys for Shell UK. These Night Riders, Night Nibblers, Night Strivers and Night Frighters as they have been dubbed by pop psychologist, Dr. David Lewis, are not all gourmands. The Night Rider he describes as the "Patsy and Edinas of the night time shopping scene" whose dream of heaven is 24 hour Harvey Nicks, but also includes young men craving for ciggies and chips. Night Nibblers crave beans on toast during News At Ten. The Night Striver's shopping trips are driven more by day time pressure - commuting, computing, the boss - than night time panic buying, while the Night Frighter won't venture out at all unless the cocoa's run out.

Everyone loves Darwin - the man who put us all in our place. Each year, a Darwin award goes to those who make an outstanding contribution to natural selection through self-sacrifice. That is, they are bestowed every year upon the remains of that individual, who through single-minded self-sacrifice, has done the most to remove undesirable elements from the human gene pool.

Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed when he attached a JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) unit to his Chevy Impala and promptly shot himself at 300 mph into the side of a desert cliff.

And now, for this year's illustrious winner:

John Pernicky and friend Sal Hawkins, of the great state of Washington, decided to attend a local Metallica concert at the Amphitheater at Gorge, Washington. Having no tickets (but 18 beers among them) they sat in the parking lot, and after finishing the beer, decided that it would be easy enough to hop over the nine-foot high fence and sneak into the show. The two friends pulled their pickup truck over to the fence and the plan was for John, 100 pounds heavier than Sal, to hop over, and then assist his friend over the fence. Unfortunately for John, there was a 30 foot drop on the other side of the fence. Having heaved himself over, he found himself crashing through a tree. His fall was abruptly halted by a large branch which snagged him by his shorts. Dangling from the tree, with one arm broken, John looked down and saw a group of bushes below him. Figuring the bushes would break his fall, John removed his pocket knife and proceeded to cut away his shorts to free himself from the tree. When finally free, John crashed below into Holly Bushes. The sharp leaves scratched his entire body and now being without his shorts, he was the unwilling victim of a holly branch penetrating his rectal cavity. To make matters worse, his pocket knife proceeded to fall with him and landed three inches into his left thigh. Seeing his friend in considerable pain and agony, Sal decided to throw him a rope and pull him to safety. However, weighing about 100 pounds less, he decided the best course of action would be to tie the rope to the pickup truck. This is when things went from bad to worse. In his drunken state, Sal put the truck into the wrong gear, pressed on the gas, and crashed through the fence, landing on and killing his friend. Sal was thrown from the truck, suffered massive internal injuries and also died at the scene. Police arrived to find a pickup truck with its driver thrown 100 feet from the vehicle and upon moving the truck, a half naked man, with numerous scratches, a holly stick up his rectum, a knife in his thigh, and a pair of shorts dangling from the tree branches 25 feet in the air.

Check in again at my desk soon!
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