Friday, July 26, 2013

How to Boast with Statistics

Red Baron, in France too (©Schulz).
Anybody concerned with statistics has certainly read Darrell Duff's book How to Lie with Statistics. Darrell wrote it in 1954 and since then it has become the best selling book about the abuse of statistical data.

In spite of this somewhat pessimistic introduction I proudly present to my loyal readers the popularity ranking of my 183 blogs to date limiting myself to the ten most visited. Although Red Baron's Blog has only twelve registered followers some of the articles must have been read by many more people and stand out as rather popular.

As Google reports and there are not lying (?) here are the ten most visited blogs:

1. Annoying the French 2124

2. My Fairy Tales 1323

3. The conquest of space and time 829

4. Uta of Naumburg 814

5. Deutscher Wald 771

6. Saltworks and Hunting for Tympana in Southern Burgundy 758

7. Duelling is crazy 728

8. The Lost Cause 667

9. Döner, a German Food 510

10. Pirates! Prepare to Board 401

(©Scott Johnson 2013)
Why is my blog about Stephen Clarke's book 1000 Years of Annoying the French so popular? To find out I googled the title of the blog but instead of its web address I found many bookshops that wanted to sell me the book. Not until down to item 62 on th list reference is given to my blog. I leasend that Clarke had written a sequel to his bestseller Annoying the French Encore in the meantime. Considered as an addendum to the original book the new pages are available as an e-book. For a mere 99 euro-cents I loaded the booklet on my iPad and started reading. In his encore Clarke stuck to just four topics:

The merger of the English-French navies. The French simply forgot that all good things come in threes and repressed the memory of the humiliating Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and the British bombing and sinking of their tricolor fleet at Mers-el-Kebir in 1940.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. As an American-French issue it really has nothing to do with British-French relations. Nevertheless Clarke likes to see the Americans pillory a representative of the French establishment for his amoral conduct. The author's advocacy for women's rights, however, sounds put on and not very credible.

The French as royalists. They will always regret having guillotined their Bourbon king which, according to Clarke, explains their hype for the royal wedding and the jubilee in 2012. At the William-Kate marriage Clarke served as an expert explaining to French commentators the ceremonies but he had his difficulties: The name of the Goring Hotel, where Kate had spent the night, the French pronounced as if it had been named after the former head of the Luftwaffe. No, no, I repeatedly told them, the Royal Family may be of German origin, but they really wouldn’t book the future princess into ze ‘Otel Goering.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
plus Hanover represented by the Lower Saxon horse
I should say that my fellow countrywomen are at least as enthusiastic about the Royals as the bonnes menagères outre Rhin. And apropos German origin, our pulp magazines wrote that the brand new baby (direct quote David Cameron) is German referring to the House of Hanover that ruled Great Britain starting with George I in 1714. The new prince even got the two names of his x-times great-grandfather: Georg Ludwig (George Alexander Louis). Do not forget other German males in the line as Albert von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha husband of Queen Victoria and the baby's great-grandfather Prince Philip with his roots in the House Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Will the French - coming in not even second but third in the naming of the prince - consider Louis as a compliment or as an affront? I am sure Stephen Clarke will us enlighten in another sequel to his book.

David Cameron as defender of the British pound. At a euro-summit French President Nicolas Sarkosy seconded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to impose taxes on financial transactions but the Prime Minister refused to co-operate with the plan. Angela watched two boys quarreling until David simply walked out of the meeting at exactly 4.48 a.m. Sarko was said to have called Cameron a gamin buté, which I saw translated in the British press as obstinate kid ... At 6.50 a.m., Cameron went to bed at the British Embassy (his symbolic island retreat), and, triumph of triumphs, at 8.15, he ordered a full English breakfast. Oh yes, when England has its back to the wall and is being attacked by the sombre forces of continental Europe, it throws the namby-pamby Mediterranean diet out of the window and goes for good old British cholesterol. No doubt those other frustrated European leaders were either still in bed or nibbling at muesli, croissants or pickled herrings. You could almost hear ‘Rule, Britannia!’ playing in the background.

Here Clarke got one detail wrong: For breakfast Angela had a crusty buttered Schrippe followed by a Schusterjunge with crackling fat, both spreads loaded with German cholesterol.

The Economist magazine, which has a high profile in Paris, went one stage further - in humiliating the French - and splashed a headline across its cover – ‘What France needs’ – next to a picture of Margaret Thatcher. As for Germany, our Angela turned out to be an acceptable ersatz although her ministers call her Mutti (mom) instead of eiserne Dame.

The popularity of my silver-decorated Fairy Tale Blog may have to do with the pictures shown from my fairy tale book dated 1937. Here are two more:

Aschenputtel (Cinderella)
Der Wolf und die sieben jungen Geißlein
(The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids)

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