Stan the Statistician <<Last | Next>> | Current Stan | Archive Stan
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 # 28: Stan's Slaves 18 October 1999

Did you know that the Papua New Guinea Pidgin for helicopter is 'magimiks bolong Yesus'?

Did you know that since 40,000 BC, the dawn of modern man, an estimated 58 billion people have died according to a study conducted by Roger Thatcher, former Registrar General of the International Statistical Institute. The current world population is about 6 billion. So around 10% of everyone who has ever lived is alive today. In fact, the United Nations picked 12 October 1999 as the day when the person making the total to six billion would be born. The 20th century began with only two billion. That's an awful lot of bonking.

The Northern Echo (Darlington, Engand) reports that the local football club is having to rethink its method of clearing waterlogged pitches after 50,000 worms brought in to irrigate the ground all drowned.

The Herald Express (Torquay, England) carries an ad offering 'a large hole for gardens, £5. Buyer collects'.

You may have read in The Times (London, England) a report that three Hell's Angel's are suing a tatooist after he misheard their instructions. Instead of proudly displaying, 'Satan's slave', the tattoos read, Stan's slave'. I would like to make it clear that I had absolutely nothing to do with this incident. It's not that I am against having slaves, it's just that three Hell's Angels do not fit the job description. Any female wishing to apply for a job as a slave, please send a CV and photograph in return for a job description.

Dr John Bruer, president of the McDonnell Foundation in St Louis, Missouri reports that parents have been caused unnecessary worry since the news in 1993 that playing classical music to babies increases their intelligence. The original experiments made such an impact that a CD of classical music, 'Build Your Baby's Brain Power Through The Power of Music', is handed to new mothers in the state of Georgia and in Florida, children are required to listen to classical music once a day. In fact, the study into Mozart and education was conducted on college students, not children; the effect lasted for only a few minutes and all attempts to reproduce the experiments have failed. Politicians who have heeded such research have clearly had their intelligence reduced to the point where they pass laws to force babies to listen to classical music. That is assuming it is possible to reduce a politician's intelligence even further. Once again, beware of research unless you have seen the original data.

The Daily Telegraph (London, England) reports that an anonymous Japanese businessman has just paid a record price of 10 million yen (around $90,000 dollars) for a stag beetle 3.12 inches long. Why, you may ask. Well, the Japanese keep them as pets. You need more of an explanation than that? Stag beetles are the only live merchandise available from vending machines in Japan, some of which have to be restocked twice a day. Be careful where you walk in future. Someone in Japan may be willing to pay good money for those roaches.

The Daily Telegraph also reports that Tracey Lewis, a marketing consultant from Chorlton, south Manchester, England, did her bit to save the planet when she spotted a tortoise crossing a busy road. She picked it up and carried it to the campsite where she was staying and released it into the woods. However, the owner for the past 43 years was convinced the tortoise had been stolen and hired a private detective to trace it. For her trouble, Ms Lewis was arrested and spent seven hours in a police cell finally being released on police bail and now faces a criminal charge of theft. Manchester, incidentally, has just had a spate of shootings on the street, illegal drugs are readily available, car crime rates are among the highest in the World and crime rates generally match or exceed those of the some of the worst US cities. At least we now know why. Greater Manchester Police are too busy locking up people for alleged tortoise theft to worry about guns, drugs, muggings and the like. And female marketing consultants when confronted are less likely to attack police than nasty old drug dealers. In Manchester, the law abiding citizens live behind bars rather than the criminals. The Mad Hatter would have approved.

James Gleick, author of Faster, has calculated that we spend more time filling in government forms than we do having sex. I would like to point out that I was not a respondent in his survey.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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