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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 # 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 stan@adweb.co.uk. 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 Peter

"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" - Captain Oates

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 already happened.

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 get me.

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 "Eurish".

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 removed.

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!!

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

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