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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 # 92: Oxymoronics September 2008

I know that my brief is to focus on statistics, but I can't
I know that my brief is to focus on statistics, but I can't resist occasionally dipping into the world of words. One of my avid readers sent me this list of the top 50 oxymorons. Worth savouring I thought.

50. Act naturally
49. Found missing
48. Resident alien
47. Advanced BASIC
46. Genuine imitation
45. Airline Food
44. Good grief
43. Same difference
42. Almost exactly
41. Government organisation
40. Sanitary landfill
39. Alone together
38. Legally drunk
37. Silent scream
36. American fashion
35. Living dead
34. Small crowd
33. Business ethics
32. Soft rock
31. Butt Head
30. Military Intelligence
29. Software documentation
28. New York culture
27. New classic
26. Sweet sorrow
25. Childproof
24. "Now, then ..."
23. Synthetic natural gas
22. Christian Scientists
21. Passive aggression
20. Taped live
19. Clearly misunderstood
18. Peace force
17. Extinct Life
16. Temporary tax increase
15. Computer jock
14. Plastic glasses
13. Terribly pleased
12. Computer security
11. Political science
10. Tight slacks
9. Definite maybe
8. Pretty ugly
7. Twelve-ounce pound cake
6. Diet ice cream
5. Rap music
4. Working vacation
3. Exact estimate
2. Religious tolerance

And the Number one top Oxymoron

1. Microsoft Works

There is an old joke about Hugh Grant and his nocturnal visit to Divine Brown, the black 'working girl'. I love all these euphemisms. Bill Gates couldn't understand why Hugh would want to visit such a lady when (at the time) he had Liz Hurley, so he cruised up and down Sunset Boulavard until he located Ms Brown. He explained who he was and and asked if she would spend the night with him for $5,000. She agreed. In the morning, an exhausted Bill Gates says that he now understands why she is called Divine Brown and she replies that she now understands why his company is called Microsoft.

On Virgin Trains in England, the 'train manager' announces before each stop that, "passengers should take all their personal belongings with them". Is he suggesting that belongings that are not personal should be left behind? What might these be? Can you have belongings that are not personal? Maybe he is suggesting that you shouldn't take other people's belongings with you which seems fair enough. He also says, "the doors will not open until the train has come to a complete stop". What is the difference between a stop and a complete stop? Is the train then moving when it has stopped until it has completely stopped?

One correspondent, a keen lover or words, has suggested a collective noun for accountants - a 'grab'. Certain professions do seem to have a poor reputation though one does not acquire a reputation without some effort. As Charles Dickens said, "the purpose of the legal profession is to make money for itself".

Check in again at my desk soon!
stan@adweb.co.uk

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