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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 # 97: Olive Oil and Pop-eyed letchers September 2012

< As the numbers relating to the perefume industry on my last desk top generated so much interest, I thought my readers would like to learn more about another esoteric world: olives.

The oldest olive trees in the world are in the hills behind Byblos in Lebanon. They are over 6,000 years old and still producing olives. The trunks are more than 15 feet wide. There are almost 10 million hectares of olives cultivated worldwide. It takes about 4.8 kilos of olives to make a one-litre bottle of olive oil. Spain is the world’s biggest producer with more than 300 million trees and delivering around 980,000 tons of oil a year.

There are more than 800 varieties of olive. The olive bark is used in homeopathic remedies (including Bach Flower). The most expensive olive oil sells in the United States for $70 a bottle. To justify the price, the producers sell it in numbered porcelain or glass bottles. The Spanish producers claim that the fruits are hand gathered and pressed the same day using granite stone crushers (which is the ancient method) and then instead of extracting the oil from the paste, the remains are allowed to drip for several days. Sounds to me like a neat labour saver too.

30% of British women had given birth by the age of 25 but only 24% had married. Society is going to look very different in a few years time as it looks different from, say, 1971 when the figures were 51% of women who were mothers by the age of 25 and 75% of them had married.

What is the most played song on the radio (UK) in the past 75 years? Of course it was Procul Harem’s, ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ (and no, the words don’t mean anything!) which was based on a J S Bach tune. In second place was Queen’s, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and third was ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’, by the Everly Brothers. The chart had three entries from the Beatles but none made the top ten. Given that many stations now use a computer to choose from a database, perhaps the fact that the first two songs are very different from most others causes them to be chosen more often as the program selects the next tune to be different from the previous in as many respects as you like (no female singer to follow a female, different BPM - beats per minutes, different key etc.). Maybe that’s why rap, house, hip-hop etc. don’t figure as they all use the same drum machines. Having said all that, I think many people (over the age when they realise that rap, house, hip-hop etc. are not actually music but sounds) would select the first two in their list. My top three? ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’, ‘Everlasting Love’ and ‘Unchained Melody’. Tomorrow, I might have another three though.

More people are now choosing to have their final curtain with pop songs rather than hymns reflecting the trend away from organised religion. The most popular choice? My Way! The Mother of a friend of mine was a keen dancer and her partner selected the last song to be 'The Last Waltz' - not quite so tacky.

The theory of ‘beer goggles’ - the idea that the more alcohol you have consumed, the more attractive a girl’s face appears - is a fallacy. The latest study has proved that men assess women as less attractive after a drink or two. Researchers asked 240 men, half of whom were given alcohol, to look at 10 photos of 17-year-old girls and rate their looks. They discovered that those who were under the influence judged the women to be less rather than more attractive. “This flies in the face of the commonly held notion of beer goggles,” said Vincent Egan of Leicester University, who led the study. It also means that men who take an ugly girl home have no excuses to fall back on the next day. She was obviously the best they could get. I now understand that research can actually be quite interesting - being given beer and asked to look at girls for free. Well done Mr Egan for getting this past the vetting committee!

China’s Great Wall is 5% longer than first thought. A new two year mapping study has unearthed an extra 180 miles of the ancient Chinese monument according to an official report. You’d think that a 180 mile stretch of the Wall would be easy to spot. What did they think it was? It turns out that it wasn’t that simple. Infrared range finders and GPSA devices were used to show hidden parts of the Wall. So where did they hide the Wall? Under hills, trenches and rivers apparently that stretch from Hu Shan mountain in northern Liaoning province to Jiayu Pass in western Gansu province. When the newly discovered portions are included in the total tally, the Great Wall - which the Chinese emperors began building 2,000 years ago to keep out invaders - now spans about 3,900 miles. I think if you hide your wall under hills and rivers, it’s not going to be much of a deterrent to invaders.


Check in again at my desk soon!

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