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Stan # 2: The millenium problem
25 August 1997
Definition of statistics: "a group of numbers looking for an
argument" - Anon
"There are no answers. Just a few guesses that might be worth a try"
- Tom Peters
"Statistics will prove anything, even the truth" - Noel Moynihan
These thoughts were kindly supplied by the lovely Mavis the
Mathemetician from Leeds.
Not surprisingly, the Millenium Problem holds much fascination for
me. I know my readers will be fully aware of the implications. It
does worry me, however, that we will be trusting those people who
created the problem in the first place, to resolve it. Nice little
earner. But did you know that there are a number of other 'time'
bombs waiting for us. For example, SNAP, the market research analysis
package, assumes the years '28' and '29' to be 2028 and 2029, but
'30' onwards are assumed to be 1930 etc. UNIX dates stop working
after 2078 and the same applies to Excel. Not that any of my readers
will give a monkey's about these. After all, John Cleese said that
the objective of every Englishman is to get safely into his grave
without being severly embarrassed. Of course, science could come up
with some solution to aging before we finally shuffle off this mortal
coil (Shakespeare). Coupled with the demographic 'time' bomb, we
could all be hacking away solving these problems in the decades to
come - or picking up the pieces. If any of my readers come across an
interesting ramification of the Millenium Problem, please e-mail me
at email@example.com. Incidentally, are you planning to celebrate this
completely arbitrary date change? Seems to me that it is all an
invention of Hallmark. After all, JC was actually born in 4BC which
means the Millenium actually happened in 1996 as my regular readers
know. And if you are not a regular reader, why not? Have you got a
life or something?
Knowing that my dedicated readers are arm chair philosophers, I offer
the following for contemplation (preferably with a large brandy or
whatever your favourite tipple is and in my case a very non-pc cigar,
preferably Havana, Romeo e Julieta, Davidoff or Monte Christo so your
Christmas present problem is solved):
"Conference: A gathering of important people who singly can decide
nothing, but together can decide nothing can be done" - Fred Allen
"Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached
their level of incompetence (aka The Peter Principle)" - Laurence J
"Horse-sense: what horses have that stops them gambling on men" - Anon
"I just knew they would move the tent as soon as I was out of sight" -
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly
what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly
disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and
inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has
There are three types of statisticians, those that can count and
those that can't.
I used to be indecisive, now I'm not so sure.
Just because I'm paranoid, it doesn't mean that they are not out to
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby
English will be the official language of the EU rather than German -
the other possibility. However, as part of the negotiations Her
Majesty's Government was forced to concede that inconsistencies and
anomalies in English spelling would be rationalised during a 5 year
phasing-in period, leading to what will be known as "Euroenglish", or
YEAR 1 - The 's' will replace the soft 'c'. Sertainly, this will make
the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard 'c' will be dropped in
favour of the 'k'. This kould klear up konsiderable konfusion.
YEAR 2 - Growing publik enthusiasm is antisipated in this sekond year
when the troublesome 'ph' will be replased with the 'f'. This will
make words like 'fotograf' 20% shorter.
YEAR 3 - Publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to
reach the stage where more komplikated changes bekome possible.
Governments will enkorage the removal of double leters which have
always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also al wil agre that the
horible mes of the silent 'e' in the languag is disgraseful and it be
YER 4 - Peopl wil now hav bekom reseptiv to steps such as replasing
'th' with 'z' and 'w' with 'v'.
YER 5 - During zis fifz yer ze unesesary 'o' kan be dropd from vords
kontaining 'ou' and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer
kombinations of leters.
ZE FUTUR - After ziz fifz yer ve vil divelop a rali sensibl riten
styl. Zer vil be no mor truble or difikultis and evrivun vil find it
ezi tu understand ech ozer.
ZE DREM OV INGLICH AZ ZE UROPIN TUNG VIL FINALI HAV KUM TRU!!