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 # 66: Inventing the Couch Potato December 2002

TV dinners and Dolly the sheep have been included in a list of 50 inventions which changed the world. The ready-meal, first manufactured from surplus turkey in 1954, was followed in 1955 and 1956 by the non-stick saucepan and TV remote control. Further evidence that the compilers, from the ThinkTank centre in Birmingham, see increasingly sedentary lifestyles as epoch-defining comes with the TV satellite (1962) and VHS video recorder (1976).

A Cheltenham woman who had her debit card stolen was dubbed the 'happiest victim of theft ever' after the thief used her card to bet on two horse races. The horses romped home and the winnings were placed by Ladbrokes directly into her account. Debit card owner Jacqueline Boanson checked her bank statement upon finding her card was stolen, and discover that her balance had increased by £291.40.

"This is the first ever in-depth research into the health risks of anorak wearing," Professor Phillip Murray announced at a press conference at Birmingham City Hospital, "and the results are remarkable. Campaigns to reduce road traffic accidents have hitherto paid little attention to the subject, but our findings prove what many people have long suspected. Put simply, the wearing of anoraks can be dangerous, and injurious to health. Our researchers measured the binocular visual field of healthy volunteers while they were wearing four different styles of anorak. Most wearers habitually pull the hood over their head, and our opthamologists discovered that, with the hood up, the field of vision is more than halved. The biggest danger comes when an anorak wearer tries to cross the road, because their vision is severly impaired, and they simply cannot see as well as other people. Our results prove beyond doubt that people need to be far more careful in their choice of headgear. And quite apart from that, they look ridiculous." Journal of Royal Society of Medicine, 2002; 95; 192-3.

A 33 year old man has been arrested by police in Edinburgh (Scotland) for having sex with a traffic cone, reports the Daily Mirror (London, England). Is it any wonder that the Romans stopped at Hadrian’s Wall?

One of my favourite entries for the Darwin awards was reported in the Daily Telegraph (London, England). "A British holiday maker died when he tried to slide down a disused cable car wire in the Italian Alps. David Mason, 49, attached a mountain climbing snap hook to the cable and then tried to slide down, using his hands as a brake, but he lost control, smashing into several rocky outcrops at high speed before colliding with a metal pylon 200 yards down. His son, Douglas, 18, was with him on the mountain near Belluno, in the Vento region of Italy, just before the accident (which was in early September 2002). Mr Mason, who was born in Birmingham but lived in Glasgow, was airlifted to a hospital nearby but was dead on arrival. He and his son were on a week-long break with Crystal Holidays."

An obituary from Private Eye caught the eye of a correspondent: "Announcement - This is to announce to Jill Margaret Gradener (of little Aston Park, West Midlands (England)) the death of her father Clive Grove-Palmer on Saturday 20 July 2002. It is with sadness and regret that neither she nor her husband, John Christopher Gardener could be prevailed upon to make contact with him, even in extremis. 'Finality is death' (James Stephens). Both Jill and John Gardener are Chartered Psychologists, members of the British Psychological Society and consult in the areas of child bereavement and relationship counselling."

Check in again at my desk soon!

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