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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 # 31: Millennium predictions MILLENNIUM STAN

If you are reading this, then congratulations for surviving both the Christmas festivities and the Millennium Experience. Quite an achievement for my readers. As I know you will feel even less like working than usual (if that's possible), I have an extra long desk top for you.

I would like to offer some words of wisdom for the New Millennium but I don't really have any so instead:

Whatever goes wrong in the next few weeks, blame it on the Millennium Bug. Late for work, walked into a room and couldn't remember what you went in for, set off to go to A but ended up on the road to B, trod on the cat, feeling crotchety, whatever, it's the Millennium Bug. Most people have only the vaguest idea of what the Bug is, so milk it. Of course, it isn't a bug at all. A bug is a mistake; not using the final two digits of the date was deliberate in the days when computer memory was scarce and expensive. However, don't push your luck. By September, the excuse may be wearing thin. You can then fall back on good old stand bys such as jet lag. Some people think that you have to fly somewhere exotic to suffer from this. Not so, it's always worth a punt even if you've only had a day trip to Blackpool.

For those of you who are reading this through a narrow tube in the centre of your eyes, it's now the year 2000. At least it is unless you live in Llandyssul in Wales or on the Isle of Foula in Scotland which still use the old Julian calendar. In these two places, New Year's day falls on 13 January on the Gregorian calendar. Julian, of course, refers to Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor, and Gregorian to Pope Gregory. It doesn't mean that the calendar which hangs on your wall has to have a picture of either of these two dead white guys to qualify - Pamela Anderson or a pastoral scene will do just as well. However, this means that those of you who failed to book a hilltop on Kiribati or Millennium Island (nice piece of branding) to celebrate the Millennium, could get a bargain in Llandyssul or Foula. Perfect for serious party goers.

I will make a prediction for the New Millennium:

Lots of people will be making predictions for the New Millennium.

Most of these will be wrong, but by the time you've started doing the crossword or channel flicked, you forgotten what they were anyway. Clever futurologists will make predictions for some considerable time ahead - and at this time, decades or centuries are appropriate. By then we'll all be dead anyway or the futurologist will be. Nice job.

So what did I predict for 1999?

Richard Branson will be involved in litigation with a large company.

Politicians of all hues will prefix sentences with "As I have made clear on a number of occasions" (if they have made it clear, why are they saying it again - do they think we are all really that thick?).

Politicians will say, "And I think most people would agree with me that....". So it's not him or her saying it, it's most people. And you don't want to be in a minority do you? So you will agree with what he or she has to say. Of course they never offer proof that 'most people think'. Another politician, another con artist.

You will see a number of men picking their noses whilst driving (don't they realise that people can see in as well as they can see out?).

A number of Tory MPs will be involved in some financial scam.

The Treasury forecasts will be hopelessly wrong - again.

There will be shock defeats for Premier League clubs in the FA Cup.

Rail companies and local councils will be caught out by unexpected weather conditions.

I think I achieved a near 100% record. OK, I didn't exactly go out on a limb and I suppose I could make these predictions again for 2000 as well. OK, I will.

I would like to end this New Millennium Message with something pithy, erudite and memorable like the words of Neil Armstrong. But I can't be arsed. So, I will leave you with the last words of James T Kirk - "Make a difference"

And, of course, keep reading my column.

Mavis the Mathemetician, one of my regular contributors, sent me this:

In Heaven:

The French do the cooking
The English run the police
The Swiss run the Government
The Italians are the lovers
and the Germans fix things

In Hell:

The English do the cooking
The Germans run the police
The Italians run the Government
The Swiss are the lovers
and the French fix things

A contribution from Liz. Have a calulator ready. Do try it on your friends, with luck, it should seriously embarrass them. No cheating by scrolling to the bottom otherwise you won't find out something about yourself. It only takes 30 seconds. Work this out as you read. Don't read the bottom until you have worked it out!!!

  1. First of all, pick the number of days a week that you would like to go out.

  2. Multiply this number by 2.

  3. Add 5.

  4. Multiply it by 50.

  5. If you have already had your birthday this year, add 1749. If you haven't, add 1748.

  6. Last step: Subtract the four digit year that you were born.


You should now have a three digit number: The first digit of this was your original number (i.e. how many times you want to go out each week). The second two digits are your age.

Spooky? Well, now you've just got to go back and try to figure out how it works don't you?

Mavis has sent me another interesting fact (what would I do without Mavis?). The 19 November was the last date with all odd numbers (19/11/99) until 1 January 3111 (1/1/3111). As it is unlikely that many of us will be around to celebrate that event, may I suggest that if you missed 19 November, you have a belated booze up. This should help bridge the gap between hangovers. Should you get withdrawal symptoms, fear not; on 2 February 2000 you can celebrate the first Even Date since 28 August 888 (28/8/888). I wonder if anyone whooped it up then and if so, how. In a previous life, was I Stannus Statisticious? I suppose most folk were more concerned with staying alive after the volcanic eruption in 535 which precipitated the Dark Ages. It was Karakatoa in case you missed it, the one which blew in 1883 and which may blow again. That's another prediction!

Check in again at my desk soon!

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