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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 # 100: One Hundred not out January 2014

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(Centenary Edition)

I have been informed by my Webmaster that this edition of ramblings from my desktop will be the 100th. I thought that this called for a special edition but then I thought that every edition is special. It reminded me of the chalkboards (we are not supposed to call them blackboards these days) in restaurants on which several ‘specials’ are chalked. But if they are so special, why aren’t they on the printed menu?

I suppose that I would now be called a blogger, a term which wasn’t invented when I wrote my first piece. You will be pleased to hear that I am not going to waffle on about the changes over the past 20 or 30 years. What I think is more interesting is what will happen in the next 20 or 30 if the pace of change continues. Was the past 30 merely a flurry and things will slow down or will they accelerate? In what direction? Flying cars never materialised nor robots that do the housework (though my better half says she feels treated like one sometimes). What will life be like in 500 years? I feel free to give you my predictions as I won’t be around to be criticised - and nor will you be around to criticise!

Apart from the very obvious that life should be better, longer and healthier, predictions are notoriously wrong. They often don’t factor in natural disasters which can have a dramatic effect on civilisation. Forget climate change. It has always changed and man has had very little effect on it. To think we have so much control is arrogant. What we should be concerned about is, amongst other things, Vesuvius which is well overdue for a display and it’s possible Naples will be wiped out or badly affected. Heirro, an island in the Canaries, rose three inches last December and La Palma has seen some slippage. If half of La Palma does slide into the sea, then the West Coast of America will disappear and even the South Coast of England will see waves of possibly 30 feet but it is the length of the wave which is a concern. If it is just 50 feet long and 30 feet high, then it will crash on the shore and be over in seconds but if it is 100 miles long, it will keep on coming and then retreat. This is why around 300,000 lives were lost in the Boxing Day Tsunami. It was the wave length. And then there is the super volcano under Yellowstone Park.....

So, I hope you are thoroughly cheered up now! Plan for tomorrow by all means but live for today says Stan the Sage.

Now, it is back to business as usual. I quite like these oxymorons so though I major on numbers, I do like to ring the changes occasionally with something amusing with words.

Top 50 Oxymorons
50. Act naturally
49. Found missing
48. Resident alien
47. Advanced BASIC
46. Genuine imitation
45. Airline Food
44. Good grief
43. Same difference
42. Almost exactly
41. Government organization
40. Sanitary landfill
39. Alone together
38. Legally drunk
37. Silent scream
36. British fashion
35. Living dead
34. Small crowd
33. Business ethics
32. Soft rock
31. Butt Head
30. Military Intelligence
29. Software documentation
28. New York culture
27. New classic
26. Sweet sorrow
25. Childproof
24. "Now, then ..."
23. Synthetic natural gas
22. Christian Scientists
21. Passive aggression
20. Taped live
19. Clearly misunderstood
18. Peace force17. Extinct Life
16. Temporary tax increase
15. Computer jock
14. Plastic glasses
13. Terribly pleased
12. Computer security
11. Political science
10. Tight slacks
9. Definite maybe
8. Pretty ugly
7. Twelve-ounce pound cake
6. Diet ice cream
5. Rap music
4. Working vacation
3. Exact estimate
2. Religious tolerance
And the Number one top Oxymoron
1. Microsoft Works
Not sure I care for number 36. I guess this is an old list.

How many wives did Henry VIII have? Six is the traditional answer but technically, this is not correct. Henry’s fourth marriage to Anne was annulled as the marriage was never consumated. In other words, the marriage never took place. Also, Anne happened to be betrothed to Francis, Duke of Lorraine. At the time, betrothal would bar the individual from marriage. So, that leaves five wives. Henry’s second marriage to Anne Boleyn was declared illegal by the Pope because the King was still married to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry, as Head of the Church of England, declared himself that his first marriage was invalid on the grounds that a man cannot sleep with his brother’s widow. He did the same with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. So, pick a number.

Having lots of wives these days is considered quite acceptable provided they are married sequentially and there is an intervening divorce in each case. This doesn’t apply to some other faiths wich allow more than one wife. When wars were even more common than they are now, men were the combatants and so many were killed. Given that there are roughly the same number of men and women born (actually, slightly more men), this left a deficit of men which in turn gave rise to polygamy. If that hadn’t been allowed, many women would never have been able to reproduce. Those who practise this today, don’t have that excuse.

This isn’t a statistic but St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland was actually Welsh and ‘Danny Boy’ was written by an Englishman. Funny how myths perpetuate. St Patrick’s Day wasn’t even celebrated until 1810 when the Govenor of New South Wales, Australia, provided entertainment for Irish convicts.

Two of the best footballers in the World are generally acknowledged to be Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo. They each have a son. There are 869 days between their birthdays and 869 days between their sons’ birthdays. Odd.

The 2011 Census shows that England and Wales are becoming culturally diverse as demonstrated by the main language spoken. English (or Welsh if in Wales) is clearly the first language (49.8 million) but is now followed by Polish (546,000). It used to be considered that there were six native languages - English, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic, Cornish and Romany. The Manx speakers are now down to a hardy bunch of 33 with Scottish Gaelic adhered to by just 58 souls. Cornish is much stronger with 557 who claim it as their main language. Of course, many of those who speak another language as their main language may also speak English to some level. England being quite a small country, it is odd that so many people don’t use its language as a main language ((about 12 million) when it is the main language of such far away places as Australia and the United States, though in the latter case, they use a rather odd version. Other facts revealed by the Census shows that there are 107 languages spoken as a main language in Hillingdon and in the ten years since the previous Census, the number of people claiming no religious affiliation almost doubled to 14.1 million. The problem with such diversity in such a small land area is that cohesion into a single society with shared values becomes very difficult. We all tend to prefer our own shared culture (the English in Spain for example). In the past, the UK has absorbed immigrants slowly and cultural norms can adjust slowly over many years. A sudden massive influx of so many cultures results in people reproducing their own societies within the Country rather than being absorbed. It is surprising that there isn’t more tension (as yet).

My very first Desktop opened with a reference to the Market Research Society so I thought that my nod to the past should include another reference to that honourable profession. From, ‘The Marketer’ magazine, are some festive facts.

1. Every Easter, 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made and, according to a survey by the National Confectioners Association, 76 percent of people believe the ears should be eaten first.
2. Every Christmas, Brits serve up around 10 million turkeys to families and friends. In the US, however, where Thanksgiving is also celebrated with a roast turkey, about 60 million turkeys are eaten annually.
3. The UK’s first chocolate Easter egg was produced in 1973 by Fry’s Chocolate in Bristol but the market didn’t pick up until a way was found to pour chocolate into moulds.
4. Perhaps unsurprisingly, White Christmas by Bind Crosby is the biggest selling single of all time, with 50 million copies sold worldwide. Silent Night is a close second, with 30 million global sales. Band Aid’s Do They Know it’s Christmas is third. In many countries, the answer would be, ‘no’ as Christmas is celebrated at times other than 25 December. As single sales have been replaced by downloads and filesharing, these records will never be beaten.
5. Hot cross buns were amongst the first Easter treats. They were made by European monks for the poor during Lent.
6. Ten new candy Love Heart sayings are added every year to keep up with the latest trands. Recent additions have included, “Text Me”, “Tweet Me”, and “Luv 24/7”. The sweets have been in production since 1933 and many of the original sayings are still in use, including, “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me”.
7. Teachers receive the most Valentines cards (good to know kids are still creeps - Stan), followed by children, mums and wives (who may be the same people). No adult males notice in the top groups. Most teachers are female especially in primary schools.
8.According to the Pew Research Centre, more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. Guilt?
9. Samhainophobia is the irrational and persistent fear of Halloween. Symptoms may include feelings of anxiety, nausea or dizziness. I have a rational fear of Halloween - armies of weirdly dressed kids demanding money with menaces.
10. Black and orange are Halloween’s trademark colours. Orange symbolises strength and stands for the harvest and autumn. Black, not surprisingly is typically a symbol for death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween originated as a pagan festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

In 2012, shoppers spent £64.9bn during the Christmas period. Easter is second with a miserly £3.6bn with Mother’s Day at £409m, Halloween, £315m, Valentine’s Day, £308m and Father’s Day at a mere £200m. Note that this is half of what is spent on Mother’s Day. Whatever happened to equality?
The average woman in the UK owns 20 pairs of shoes.
Let’s hope I can ‘blog for another 100 editions! Well, I hope anyway!

 

Check in again at my desk soon!
stan@adweb.co.uk

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