Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009: Happy cows, p*ns and shocking news about men and sex

Happy Cows: Now, it's not so much that I have a problem with the Newcastle University study allegedly showing that cows who are given the "personal touch" produce more milk (up to 284 litres more, although god knows how they worked that out - cosied up to a cow, then shunned her?). My problem is more (surprise, surprise) with how the Herald, in the form of reporter James Ihaka, has chosen to report this piece of 'news' - that is, like a child with no background in quantitative research. First it is implied that the main finding of the study is that cows with names are more productive - and Mr Ihaka indulges us by suggesting some names that cows might have, and which might presumably maximise production: "Daisy, Gertrude or Buttercup". Now, those are some fine names, but I have a sneaky feeling that calling your cow 'Hitler', 'Benjamin Button', 'Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen' or 'Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite' would have exactly the same effect.
The second problem with the article is that it takes the normal Herald approach to a (presumably) peer-reviewed scientific paper - it asks people for anecdotes about whether or note the study is accurate. People such as dairy farmer Martin Bennett of Putaruru who, in conjunction with Ihaka, came up with this abortion of a sentence: "He said it made sense to lots of farmers who named their cows as their herds were far more likely to produce better quality milk." I see.

Harmonious end to my sanity: The good news - a drugs bust has bizarrely turned up a stash of stolen musical instruments worth tens of thousands of dollars. The bad news - Elizabeth Binning, 'police reporter', has decided this occasions a punfest of epic, horrifying proportions. I honestly thought the paper had weaned itself off the use of puns until I saw this. "Harmonious end to drug bust", screams the headline. "On the beat took on a new meaning when police dropped in". No it didn't. "The successful raid ... could almost be described as music to the ears of police...". Stop it! Stop it now! The only thing worse than reading this holocaust of language is imagining how smugly she is sitting at her desk right now, coming up with her next pun-related crime against humanity.

Outrageously cute news of the day: No time to go into any detail, but there's news on A3 of a Scottish zoo breeding pigs that are the size of a teacup when born. Excuse me.

Why mathematicians can't find girlfriends: Ladies, next time you're unsure whether or not to sleep with some guy, consult a game theorist. A British study written by mathematicians from several classy universities have shown through game theory that - shock! - there are benefits in not rushing into sex with every stranger you meet. According to their breakthrough findings, men quite like having sex quite soon. Worse, some men don't intend to stick around afterwards! I know, I know. Calm down, it's ok. Having your whole world view shattered is never easy. Young ladies can foil these dastardly Don Juans by - wait for it - not having sex straight away with any stranger they bump into. The bad men will melt away - perhaps literally - leaving Mr Right standing there, holding flowers and chocolates, in a pool of liquified human flesh. Enjoy.


  1. Harmonious end... does not a pun have to work both ways. In what way was the bust 'harmonious'? Maybe I should check out those pigs.

  2. For a second there I was actually under the impression that the article discussed under the "Why mathematicians can't find girlfriends" might be an interesting one ... or at least decently constructed one. Alas, no. Can I just point out two quotes that strike me as particularly hilarious:
    First: "Bad males give up at some random time if the female has not by then mated with them, but good males are more persistent."

    and second:
    "I have no evidence to say you will be happier if you wait,"

    So in summary "bad" males will randomly decide to flee, irrespective of whether you have sex with them or not, and that waiting results in sexual frustration which is not accompanied by increased happiness - good one!!!

    Also, why are they interviewing a statistician from Melbourne who had nothing to do with the study in the first place about relationships - as opposed to, say, the statistical analysis presented in the paper. Is he any more qualified to comment on the topic of male-female interaction than, lets say, a random person off the street, or the aforementioned farmer who was interviewed regarding naming cows.

    Oh, and by the way - game theory/game of love ... please spare me the puns!!!