End-of-term statistics (2)

Well, it’s that time of term again. The essays are being written, individual words are being ruthlessly plagiarised from the dictionary, and 10 weeks’-worth of clutter is being put into boxes ready to join 20 years’-worth of clutter at home.

Information is power!

But one exciting innovation this term is the ‘data report’. One of our courses involves a bit of numeracy (shock horror) in analysing a pile of election statistics using an exciting piece of software called SPSS, which is basically a glorified and overcomplicated version of Excel – other brands are available – full of drivular terms such as Pearson’s chi-square and Cramer’s V.

While discussing various ways of processing data, our seminar tutor politely checked, “Have you learnt maths?” before inviting us to calculate the average of a series of numbers. Mr Narey’s lessons really seem like a long time ago now…

Various interesting discoveries from the British Election Survey 2010:

  • 7 people listed their daily newspaper of choice as being Today. Which went out of publication in 1995. Presumably there’s a strong correlation between those folks and  those in the ‘idiot’ category.
  • Buddhists are the religious group least satisfied with UK democracy, with 48% “very dissatisfied,” leaving me a little surprised that they out-do the Jewish communitity in finding things to quibble about!
  • 3,660 people said that they have watched TV “for less than half an hour.” The data doesn’t give any more context than that but I presume it must have a deeper meaning than ‘in total’!

I also had an interesting discussion when one of m’colleagues found a ‘weight’ category on the list of questions.

Me: “Where do I find the Weight?”
M’colleague: “Near the bottom.”
Me: “Hahahaha.”

The Sussex Spring

University of Sussex Students' DisunionThe Students’ Union is encouraging me to boycott my lectures and seminars today. As an alternative, they are inviting everyone to a “General Assembly” in Library Square (God only knows what qualifies it as a ‘General Assembly’ rather than ‘a group of people’…) tastefully entitled How we’re getting fucked over & how we can fight back.

One stated aim is to bring “staff and students together on campus.” I always thought that a lecture involved staff and students being together on campus, but what do I know.

“From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, ordinary people are fighting back across the globe,” – but given that we’re not being besieged in Syria, all this Arab Spring talk doesn’t entirely make clear what the boycott is in aid of. Nor does anything anywhere else on the page. Pity really, because it makes the whole thing seem rather pointless!

On the fourth day God created The Sun

So it turns out that, while Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Ian Blair (no relation) mysteriously obtained his son (no relation) a work experience placement with The Sun. And even more mysteriously, the son of the previous Commissioner also interned with The Sun. And most mysteriously of all, the son of the Commissioner before that did a similar stint.

The mysterious trend here, of course, is that all these senior police officers had teenage sons. What a coincidence!

But more to the point, this episode gives a whole new meaning to that playground taunt, My dad’s a policeman! and here is my own tribute to those three valiant lads who penetrated Murdoch’s media empire, only slightly altered from the original Rupert the Bear!

S’r’Alan comes to Sussex

Well, this time next week The Apprentice will be back on our screens. And a little birdie told me that one of the contestants is an old friend from Lewes Court…


The Helpful Advice of the Week Award goes to the BBC for this headline:

The Big Society Award for Helping People Out of Poverty goes to the Texan company which came up with this brilliant idea:

I don’t like pinching material from Private Eye any more than I do when they pinch mine, but full credit to them for spotting this in the Daily Mail:

Sussexballs: £9000 per annum paid for contributions

“The Gulf War has a certain boyish interest for a lot of boys.”

“Margaret Thatcher would have pressed the nuclear button. Mahatma Gandhi wouldn’t.”

[Seminar tutor, in a seminar on the Middle East…] “I think the Six Day War happened in the 1960s, or something.”

“The event will be from 7-9pm at a venture in Baker Street.”

“The French position was that they should not contribute to the demise of their own empire.” [Eccentric people, the French.]

“You could say, ‘At least we’re killing all the Ruskies,’ but that’s a pretty limited form of satisfaction.”

[One flat in Lewes Court decorated their corridor with a few balloons…

…and received the following response from the Housing Office…] “If there was a fire in the building all could end in disaster. Which is why, with a heavy heart, I must ask you not to block the fire exit with several hundred balloons.” [Hence the expression ‘party popper’?]

And He said, “Let there be light!”

However, the ‘He’ in this case is Sir George Campbell MP, who decided in 1890 that enough was enough, and the House of Commons ought to be fitted with electric lights. And immediately after the minister’s reply to him came an extremely bizarre question from another MP followed by an equally strange answer.

Opening titles
In tonight’s episode, the statistical idiots were played by the great British public. Rupert the Bear was played by Gabriel Webber. Sir George Campbell MP saw the light and Thomas Sexton MP RIP asked the follow-up question. The balloons were photographed by Jozef Maxted. This was an Gabrielquotes production.

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