Three kinds of Statistics; White Lies, Fibs and Bullcrap

Look at these stats! Nothing but good news and a need for a taller graph! (Image from pages.uoregon.edu)

There was a quote by Mark Twain which essentially said that there are three kinds of lies; Lies, damn lies and statistics.  Fittingly enough, Twain attributed the remark to Benjamin Disreali.  I know this because I had a statistics instructor in college tell us that the first day of class.  I’m still not sure if that was the best thing to tell us as we started our study of stats, but that was his choice.  In his defense, I’ve recalled that quote, albeit somewhat incorrectly, for all these years since.  By the same token, I’ve pretty much forgotten everything else we covered after that first day.

In the spirit of lies and damn lies, I’ve assembled a few of my own statistics for your reading pleasure.  While some of the stats may be twisted or completely fabricated, the important thing is that this piece gives me a chance to put a bunch of links to other things I’ve written.  If stats are good for one thing, it’s surely self-promotion.

Number of Posts = 80

Blogging Since = February 2012

Number of times Freshly Pressed = 0 (Refer to an upcoming post on the phenomenon known to WordPressers as Freshly Pressed)

Number of times I looked at the drivel I’d posted and prayed it wouldn’t be Freshly Pressed – Oh please, not this time! = 67

Lowest hits on a post =   Gotta Start Somewhere   – My very first blog post, with a massive 17 hits.  It was tentative, weak, could well have also been my last post, but 17 people read it.  I felt obligated to my teeny fan base to write a second post.  The rest, as they say, is the reason the garage isn’t cleaned out yet.

Highest hits on a post =   Life Lessons From Gilligan’s Island  – A ridiculous 471 hits and counting.  Seriously people?!  I compared the Skipper to Jerry Sandusky!  This is the post you love most?

Average time required to draw an illustration for a post = 2.9 hours.  That’s an average.  Some took much longer, and one or two were practically doodles.

Average time required to surf, copy, save, retrieve, crop and properly credit photos from the web for a given post = 2.89 hours.  Part of the reason this takes me so long is that my computer keeps taking me to porn sites and fantasy football articles.

Average time spent writing a blog post, not including illustrations/web photos = 45 minutes

Average time spent editing/re-reading/re-writing the above 45 minute post = 3.73 hours.  This statistic does not include the times when, after multiple edits I just got so sick of looking at the post that I deleted it out of spite.

Average number of times someone on Facebook utters under their breath for me to “get a life” per blog link posted on my wall = 1.3 .  Admittedly, this is only an estimate, but if my wife is any indication, I think it’s pretty close.

Average amount of time spent daily by those very same Facebookers on virtual farming, mystical quests for dragon eggs and Words With Friends = 7.3 hours.  Also an estimate, exaggerated for comedic value.  For the record, my wife does not partake in any such Facebook activities.  Sadly, the same cannot be said for my oldest brother Mike.

Number of contacts who I send a blog link to via personal email every single time I post = 83.  No exaggeration here.  These people were foolish enough to give me their email addresses and now my notifications pop up more often than spam for discounted Mexican Viagra.

Number of them who delete the email but don’t have the heart to tell me to stop sending them = 71.  This number is based on how often I see friends and colleagues (and neighbors, Bill) who never comment on my latest blog.  They’ll avert their eyes and suddenly get urgent cell phone calls if I even bring up the subject (I didn’t hear it ring.  Huh.  I guess it was on vibrate)

Monetary value of total hits of posts = $0.  Unless you count the time I found a five dollar bill in a box of colored pencils while looking for a decent eraser.

Emotional value that someone read me, even if they don’t speak English = Priceless.  This, of course, is a nod to all my fans, but especially my uber fan, Manon Kubler.  Kubler, to the best of my knowledge, speaks no English, but still insists on raving about my blog and even reblogging it, presumably to his countrymen who may or may not believe me to be some kind of “Cargo God”

Life Lessons From Gilligan’s Island

I recently found myself commenting on two seperate blog posts, about two very different topics within a few days of each other and making references to Gilligan’s Island on both comments.  It occured to me that I learned many of life’s important lessons from watching any number of crappy sitcoms, and Gilligan’s Island is certainly no exception.

For a bunch of people stranded on an island with no way home, they look pretty damn happy – let that be a lesson to you!  (Image from dvdsetcheap.com)

1. Given the opportunity, people will use technology for the dumbest possible reasons.  Long before we learned this the hard way through internet porn and Facebook, Gilligan and the Professor were using the available technology of coconuts, bamboo and palm fronds to the fullest extent of the materials’ potential.  Rather than use the technology to fix the boat, or make a water purification system, they chose to create things like automatic hammock swingers and for making the Howell’s a stock ticker which printed the Dow Jones on banana leaves.

and on a related note:

2. When faced with dire circumstances and a poor prognosis, people may focus on the wrong priorities.  Long before people squabbled over the rights to use a given pop song as the theme for a presidential election instead of frivolously wasting time on silly things like issues, Gilligan and company had paved the way for wasting time and resources.  The gang on the island would use their valuable energy to put on a show.  They’d build a stage and props so that 4 of them could entertain the other 3.  This sort of thing is still fairly rare in the real world, but in the realm of show biz it’s commonplace.  Still, we can learn from it.  The next time there’s a natural disaster, instead of sending medical aid and supplies, we should send footlights, greasepaint and boomboxes for musical accompaniment.

3. Running fast doesn’t always get you there quickly enough.  Instead you need to speed up the tape and make it even faster.  To clarify, Gilligan and crew didn’t originate this concept, the Munsters did it years earlier, whenever Herman scared someone.  Irrespective of who invented this incredible strategy, the truth of the matter is this; there’s no point in being careful to trying to accomplish things in an orderly, logical manner.  Instead, just run around and around really fast and people will become distracted by your foolishness and laugh at you.

Good news Lil Buddy! The Professor finished making the hot water heater for the showers!  (Image from Timstvshowcase.com)

4. Having your heart in the right place counts more than actually accomplishing something and/or forgiveness is a noble thing.  Gilligan screwed up the group’s chances of getting rescued multiple times.  Though the Skipper would take off his hat and smack him with it, eventually, he would realize that Gilligan’s heart was in the right place and all would be forgiven.  So don’t worry about succeeding, just try your best for all the right reasons and some big Sandusky-looking guy will forgive you and call you his “lil buddy”.  Nothing creepy about that.

5. Change is not good – change sucks the big one.  Despite their time stranded on an island, not one of the castaways changed.  Ginger remained a primadonna, the Howells continued to value money and status over everything else, Maryann stayed the sweet, innocent farmgirl she’d always been and The Professor never got horny, no matter how hot Ginger looked in that shimmery, skin-tight dress.  Let this be a lesson to you.  If those people didn’t change why should you?  Keep being the same knucklehead you’ve always been, it suits you.  Besides, you only risk a drop in the ratings by trying to improve yourself.

6. As long as we’re on the topic of change, there’s no reason to change your clothes either.  A long sleeved red shirt and bucket hat is a good wardobe for the tropics.  Find a fashion which works for you and stick with it exclusively – don’t be mixing and matching like Ginger and the Howells, stick with your first choice.  Personally, I’ve been wearing these MC Hammer genie pants for going on 20 years and they still turn heads, so I know this one is a stone cold fact, yo.

7. Diversify, diversify, diversify!  People looked at Thurston Howell III and envied his massive piles of money.  A closer look revealed that that while the rest of the castaways were looking for pretty shells and running away from headhunters, TH-III was rocking out voice work for the politically incorrect, but always humorous Mr. Magoo.  Life lesson, if you aren’t happy with your station in life, get your ass to work at a second job!  Once you’re rolling in cheddah, go score some rich debutante like Lovey, then ride that gravy train straight down Easy Street.

8. Despite being seperated from loved ones and presumed dead, you can still have lots of fun. As detailed above, the wacky castaways wasted relatively little time trying to get rescued and finding food and shelter.  Instead, they focused on playing golf, putting on skits, and getting into all sorts of zany hijinx.  Gilligan’s Island taught us to be happy, regardless of the circumstances.  Now go back out there to your own miserable little island and try to have yourself a few good chuckles.  Be sure to wrap things up within a half hour or so, minus commercials and the credits.