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 # 43: Hunting elephants February 2001

Following a drinking binge in Christchurch, New Zealand, Koto Salaki passed out - so his buddies stripped him and shaved off his eyebrows as a joke. Getting no reaction, they proceeded to cut off his ear and glue it onto his forehead. Doctors managed to sew it back on.

After a heavy drinking session in Weymouth in August 1990, 51 year old Philip Pyne fancied a kip on a bench. To stop himself rolling off, he put 12 nails through his trousers and in the process, drove several of them through his leg. Fortunately he was discovered by police.

An operation at Nottingham hospital in January 1989 ended prematurely when the patient exploded. The casualty, an 82-year-old woman, was undergoing electrosurgery for cancer. The blast was attributed to an unusual build-up of stomach gases ignited by the sparks.

A survey by Bild Zeitung (Germany) shows that 40% of German women are disappointed with their partners sexual performance. The fraus and fraulines say that their men are lazy and selfish lovers.

A psychologist in the US (where else) has discovered that people with initials such as DUD or ILL die more than seven years earlier than those with initals such as WIN or WOW. He reasons that years of teasing must take its toll. "You get teased at school, wonder what your parents thought of you or even think that maybe fate is out to get you." This reminded me of other unusual names I have come across such as the lady from Spalding in Lincolnshire (England) called Rosie Paton who married a man called Bottom - Mel Bottom - so he was called (what else) Smelly Bottom. Then I remember Hugh Janus, Bent Kok (from Norway, but of course, not amusing there), Richard Sole, Sharon Tracey (you have to be British to understand this one) from (thank God) Surrey not Essex and Penny Stamp. Then there was the CID officer from Southampton called Robin Banks, the chemist from Altrincham (Manchester, England) called Downs who named his daughter Ida, the employee of Barclays Bank called Arthur Brick. Recently on holiday, I met a lady called Renee Beger who gave her daughter her maiden name as a middle name - Bric - which was hated by the said daughter. However, she got to like the name a lot when she married a man called Pyle so becoming Bric Pyle. Finally my favourite which I know is true because I saw the evidence with my own eyes. As a student, I worked for the Inland Revenue (and have the rest of my life as well come to think of it). I dealt with the employees from Barclays Bank and came across a lady called Barbara Olive (B O) Smelley who married while I was there, a man called Reekes. Incredible? A hoax? Anyone who has had dealings with the Revenue would know they are not known for their great sense of humour. Nobody told me about this. I came across the details in the files myself.

A few more points to ponder: Before inventing drawing boards, what did they go back to? How do I set my laser printer on stun? How is it possible to have a ‘civil’ war? If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting? If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done? The Express & Star (England) reports that a lap-dancing club in Hove, East Sussex has applied for changes to its licence after complaints that a no-touching rule discriminated against blind customers. The Detroit News reports that a woman who stopped at traffic lights in Detroit noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of her that read, "Honk if you love Jesus". So she did. The driver of the car in front then got out and bashed a dent in her bonnet with a baseball bat.

Hunting Elephants

Mathematicians hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left.

Experienced Mathematicians will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise.

Professors Of Mathematics will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.

Computer Scientists hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A:

- go to Africa.
- start at the Cape of Good Hope.
- work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west.
- during each traverse pass, catch each animal seen. Compare each animal caught to a known elephant. Stop when a match is detected.

Experienced Computer Programmers modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.

Hardware Engineers hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching grey animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.

Economists don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.

Statisticians hunt the first animal they see N times and call it an elephant.

Consultants don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.

Operations Research Consultants can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet colour to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.

Politicians don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.

Lawyers don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings.

Senior Managers set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.

Sales People don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens.

Software Sales People ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant.

Hardware Sales People catch rabbits, paint them grey, and sell them as desktop elephants.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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