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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 # 17: Dangerous sports and CDs to avoid 1 January 1999

To all my readers who made it through the festive season and have accessed this page because they can't be arsed doing any work: A Happy New Year!

A friend of mine tells me that he only ever makes one New Year's resolution - not to make any resolutions. So, I guess he breaks it every year.

This is the year that Nostradamus promised us that an almighty powerful king would come from the sky. My money is on Richard Branson as he seems to make a habit of plunging from the sky. Other suggestions have been Bill Clinton going out in style by jumping from Air Force One without a parachute and Bill Gates during the launch promo of the first service pack (i.e. bug fixes) for Windows 98. Make a note in your filo that it should all happen in July.

On a more mundane note, I thought I would pass on a tip from Clive Witchelow to help ease your New Year buying: ten CDs to avoid in the New Year Sales:

  1. Anything under a fiver (approx $8.35).
  2. Anything with 'Legendary' in the title.
  3. Albums concentrating on, 'The Early Years'.
  4. Tribute albums.
  5. TV tie-ins (e.g. Love Songs From Your Favourite TV Cop Shows).
  6. Titles with terrible puns (e.g. Have I Got Blues For You!).
  7. Theme albums (e.g. Line Dance Crazy!).
  8. Anonymous albums (e.g. The Pipes Of Clackmannashire).
  9. Classical/pop combinations (e.g The East Kilbride Philharmonic Remembers The Wombles).
  10. Anything from a motorway service station (kind of like a freeway rest area).

I would also add - any title which ends with an exclamation mark.

I have long held the theory that learning to swim would increase the likelihood of my drowning. This may seem odd, but non swimmers are less likely to go into water and extremely unlikely to go in deep water if they can't swim. Swimmers on the other hand tend to swim which means they go into water more often and swim in deep water. My theory was confirmed by the following statistics on injuries per 100,000 participants and deaths. Unfortunately, the figures don't say if the fatal accidents are per 100,000 participants or per year and I suspect they refer to the UK.

Injuries:       Deaths:
Rugby 440 Swimming 191
Soccer 200 Boating 69
Hockey 130 Riding 62
Skiing 130 Mountaineering 51
Motor sport 58 Fishing 50
Riding 26 Soccer 14
Fishing 11 Running 9
Running 7 Cricket 2
Golf 5 Rugby 2
Bowls 3 Golf 1

Of course, people keel over all the time and there is no suggestion that participation in any of the above actually caused them to die, but even so, swimming does seem more dangerous than golf. There is no indication that the 69 who died whilst boating could swim or not. But I doubt if the ability to swim made much difference to the passengers on the Titanic.

The Market Research Society's, 'MRScene' tells how last summer there were so many interviewers on the streets of Tokyo that the police had to be called. It doesn't say why they had to be called though. Is there a law in Japan against more than a certain number of interviewers congregating? What would that number be? What is the collective noun for interviewers? A flock? A gaggle? A murder? Field managers may have views.

Knowing the economy is in recession in Japan, were the interviewers fighting over the few shoppers who were around? Were they fighting each other, the respondents who refused or the police - or all three? Did they fail to use the traditional sumo moves? Were they fighting at all or were they just considered an unruly mob by definition?

Why didn't they just interview each other? Were they all out of quota? If not, maybe they could meet at a sushi bar on a regular basis and interview each other in comfort. They could eat one dish of sushi, conduct one interview and move up one. The mad hatter would have approved.

Glasgow Media Group, university based pioneers of programme and newspaper content analysis, used to make headlines with politically charged studies which tended to demonstrate that such cultural pillars as Panorama and the Nine O'clock News were running to an establishment dominated agenda (Bosses always filmed behind their desks, workers at the factory gates etc.). Semiotic solutions.

Times have changed. Their latest study is a focus group based inquiry into sex and violence in television wildlife films. While a clear majority of viewers and all the females questioned disliked scenes of violence or predation (except the Essex lads - "the killing scenes are the only bits I like"), sex scenes, "were relished by all the men and by women from southern England." "I like the mating - all the ways they do it!" (middle class female, Herts). Scottish women proved the exception, "Yuck! I don't like anything like that". So why are there so many bloody Scots?

Check in again at my desk soon!

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