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 # 81: National habits November 2004

A recent survey by Sheraton Hotels shows that 23% of British people can't sleep unless they have a drink by their beds, 34% have to read something and 16% require the radio on. Apparantly, the most common reason for sleep disturbance is your sleeping companion - another reason to be careful about who you sleep with.

The Tokyo magazine, Spa, conducted a nationwide survey into the personal habits of the Japenese. They found that 44% of both sexes regularly urinate in the bath and that when things go wrong, 23% pretend to be foreigners and begin swearing in English (it's a great language for profanities). Farting in the bathtub is also a popular recreation as is sniffing one's own body ("I perspire a lot so I'm constantly smelling my own armpits").

I find this very worrying. Given that the facial characteristics of Japenese people are quite different from those of the English, can those on the receiving end of these profanities actually believe that the perpetrator is English?

Tracker, the Company that makes devices to locate cars after they have been stolen, reports that in the UK in 2003, they recovered £35,112,850 worth of motors. £7m of cars were recovered in London and BMWs recovered totalled more than £9m so best not to own a BMW in London. Best to own a Harley-Davidson in Durham (£8,000 each). They also recovered a Raleigh Lawn King. I wonder how far the thief got. And who would have thought of fitting Tracker to a lawn mower?

Did you know that speed limits existed long before cars actually appeared on British roads, thanks to the 1865 Locomotives & Highways Act. All powered vehicles had a speed limit of 2 mph in towns and 4mph on country roads - yet someone still had to walk 60 yards in front carrying a red flag. Thirteen years later, this requirement was abolished. In 1896, the speed limit was raised to 14mph although it could be reduced to 12mph by individual local authorities. Without precise measurements of speed, I'm not sure how they distinguish between 12 and 14 mph. In 1903, it was increased again to a swift 20 mph. In 1930, all speed limits were abolished. But in 1935, the legislators were back with a 30 mph limit but motorways (aka autobahns or autoroutes) had no limits until a 70 mph limit was imposed in 1965 as a temporary measure that was, of course, made permanent a month later. 20mph limits were introduced on various roads in 1991 and peak time limits were imposed on the M25 to keep traffic flowing. Given the volume of cars on the UK roads, it's actually quite difficult to reach the speed limit. I suspect that this is the reason why the lower limits are being introduced. How can you fine someone for exceeding a limit he can't reach?

1% of households in the UK suffer 43% of all burglaries. So why don't the police move in and wait for the perps to appear? It would seem to be more efficient.

More people are killed annually by teddy bears than grizzly bears. Small parts such as buttons, eyes and bows can choke young children, Adults end up in hospital after tripping over them, Teddies can also spread infections. One study showed that 90% of soft toys in doctors' waiting rooms had moderate to heavy bacterial infections including lice and herpes. The last places you want to go when you are ill are a doctor's surgery or hospital.

Each year more than 11,000 Britons are injured by vegetables. Most of the accidents happened while trying to cook them (boiling and fying can lead to burns) but some people use them as weapons. A recent craze for home made potato guns (placing a spud in a pipe then igniting an explosive mixture at one end causing the vegetable to fly out at speeds of up to 1,000 feet per second) has lead to a deluge of blindness and broken bones. Children also have a prediliction for pushing foreign objects up their noses especially peas. I can handle that but not when they eat it afterwards. I always suspected that eating your greens wasn't good for you.

Four hundred underwear related injuries are recorded in Britain every year. One man sustained a fracture and ligament damage when he twisted his middle finger while trying to unclasp the bra strap of a female companion. Too keen I reckon. Two women were killed in 1999 when a bolt of lighening hit the underwiring of their bras and acted as a conduit. You may like to ponder how the remaining accidents with underwear occurred. Maybe going commando is a lot safer.

Check in again at my desk soon!

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