Tribute to Stephen Hawking - Discovered That Black Holes Radiate

More in  Life | Be the next to comment
Bite Me!

From the Department of Bad Statistics:  The New York Times just published an article titled “Afraid of Snakes? Wasps and Dogs are Deadlier.”  It supports this claim by citing the number of deaths due to encounters with various animals between 2008 and 2015. According to the article, the number of Americans who died from snakebites during this period was 48, compared to 272 from dogs and 478 from stinging insects.

Even if we agree that wasps and dogs caused more deaths over this timeframe, they are not necessarily deadlier.  Most people have far fewer encounters with snakes than with bees (whose food sources are everywhere) or dogs (whose owners are everywhere).  I may spot a snake around here every two or three years.  And when I do, I give them a far wider berth than I do dogs.  Both of these factors are likely to play a part in the relatively low number of snakebite deaths among the general population, compared to those from bees or dogs.

I think the New York Times could have framed this story in a less sensational and more informative way, but it just goes to show how journalists and scientists have different aims and often abide by different rules.  Afraid of scientists?  Journalists are deadlier!

More in  News and Comment, One-Foot Putts | Be the next to comment
Thoughts @ Large: 53

• From the Irony Board:  The mechanics of creating a Thoughts @ Large post seems to erase from memory whatever thought-at-large it was that seemed so clever and important to share just a moment ago.

• I will not make reservations — or dine — at restaurants that do not post entrée prices on their online menus.  One can be sure that this is precisely the intended effect.

• It takes five minutes on my grill to produce the perfect rare-to-medium-rare hamburger.  It takes another thirty seconds on that same grill to produce something deemed inedible by certain members of this household whose name will be withheld to protect me.

• Given all the analogies that have been offered, I’m surprised that no one has yet to name this administration “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

• Ha ha, you might say.  But I am now a gang-of-one who can’t cut straight.  I tried doing so yesterday, but the distortion in my left eye won’t allow it — my scissors appear to bend and my cut-line is confused.  As one who once relied so much on alignment and precision when making art, it is discouraging.  It seems I must now be content to paint curvy things, shapes that mask my incompetence.

• This state of affairs illustrates how my art has as much or more to do with my limitations than my talents.  As perhaps it always has been — and perhaps how it is for most artists.  (But those artists will have to speak for themselves.)

• One last item from the Irony Board about getting old and its related bothers: this month not only marks my entry into Medicare but also my enlarging the icons on my laptop and attaching a goose-neck magnifying glass onto my desk.  From here onward, I can look back fondly when Paul McCartney sings, When I’m Sixty-Four.

• There has to be some six-syllable German word for a person who you think is your friend but who in reality does not interact with you and may not have thought about you in years. Likewise, there must be an equally-long German word that describes you, the person who believes he has such a friend.

• Is customer service, mirabile dictu, getting better?  Looking back, I would say that the 1980s were the nadir in how businesses large and small felt free to take customers for granted, were deaf to satisfying them and put them through hell should any complain. Over the last decade (thanks to Amazon and/or social media) there has been a sea change in customer relations.  Whether it is sincere or scripted is not my concern as long as they are engaged in resolving my problem and, better yet, keeping problems from happening.  Amazon and its free shipping and no-questions-asked returns have changed everything in the retail landscape.  I am old enough to recall five-and-tens and those were not the days.  As Paul McCartney sang, it is getting better all the time.

More in  Thoughts at Large | Read 3 comments and add yours