Number of the Month

May  2004

Apologies for absence

Many thanks to those who enquired, but your bending author is alive and well and living in Wiltshire. Regrets, too, for the lack of e-mail response. The reason for the silence is the final throes of producing the new Number Watch book. It goes to the printers this month. The official publication date is July 1st, but the plan is to make it available to Number Watchers from the beginning of June.

The vasty corridors of Numeric Towers have been humming with activity. Countless drudges hurry from room to room, bearing their verbal load. Extra shifts have been introduced in the metaphor polishing department, the simile sub-unit and the infinitive repair shop.

Just to be going on with, here is a picture (click for full size):

 epidem.jpg (183263 bytes)


The book

The new book is now available, exclusively to Number Watchers for the month of June. It can be ordered with the usual discount on postage and packaging for UK purchasers and non-UK purchasers

Number of the month 60

Your bending author ill chose a month in which to be absent. It was in many ways a vintage month, well attested and tracked by The Times was particularly rich. It had one of the finest pieces of meaching for a long time, full of venial scientists and evil industrialists. The Great Leader came up with yet another of his great ideas; the Carbon University. Whatever next? The Ytterbium University? Of course, they are a bit upset down Nether Wallop way, where they founded the Phlogiston University

Old Faithful, Nigel (thousands to die) Hawkes, grabbed the front page on May 21st with a giant headline in his own inimitable genre: Thousands carrying hidden CJD Time Bomb. The story involved another old friend , Professor John Collinge, who was responsible for the outbreak of MMC disease just three years ago this month and an outbreak of WIDIMITWEED in 2002, when he was still trying to keep the threat of hundreds of thousands of vCJD deaths alive. A year later Old Faithful was helping out with Thousands at risk of vCJD from blood transfusion. The latest attempt to keep the kettle boiling relied on extrapolation from three people to the whole population.

Back in January 2002 Number Watch warned:  Obesity is the new cause celebre among the health fascists of the Nanny State. Watch out for dutiful epidemiologists “proving” that it causes every known ill of mankind, as do tobacco and alcohol.

Well, it all came to pass and the campaign has been conducted with mounting hysteria ever since. So on Monday May 21st The Times had Ministers want ban on junk food ads aimed at children, with a side piece headlined Fear over health in the future. The latter contained a real gem of a number, which is our number of the month. It was a typical irony of life (or Sod's Law if you will) that YBA had been looking for a good example of the end-point fallacy for the new book. On the very day it went to press the Times piece had this:

The average 11-year-old girl now has a waist that is 2 inches bigger than that of a typical adult women 60 years ago.

60 years ago the British people were starving.  They had been losing a war for years and were subjected to severe rationing. The women looked skeletal and haggard in their thin cotton dresses. They dreamed of food. In the children's comic books, such as Beano and The Dandy, the reward for the hero in the last frame was a feed, which always consisted of a large cone of mashed potatoes with steaming sausages sticking out of it. No doubt the food fascists of today envy the power of the wartime bureaucrats to control their victims.



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