Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

A week or so ago a study was released that suggested Fox News viewers were actually less informed than people who watch no news at all. Fox News viewers were probably shocked and offended by this - well might have been, but I'm guessing Fox News didn't even put this on its ticker and it's doubtful Halloween Mask Nancy Grace reads anything but her own teleprompter so she probably never got offended by the report in the first place - but it did stir up quite the tit for tat on various Facebook walls on which it was posted.

One such Facebook debate, a debate I regrettably got involved in, led off with a tired saying by a self-proclaimed Fox News fan that there were, "Lies, damn lies, and statistics," suggesting that any survey can be tweaked and spun so that it supports a certain bias. While I somewhat agree with this, I often find that this argument is used by people who don't want to even contemplate that the survey in question has any validity to it. It did however get me to thinking about statistics and emboldened me to click on the "stats" tab at the top of my Blogger home page for the first time to see, statistically anyway, who it is that reads this blog. Here are the results from the last month:

699 page views - Apparently I'm not the people's first choice in blogging entertainment. I've not written much recently...that must be the issue.

Blogger's Choice Awards, Google, Twitter, and Facebook lead the referring URLs, but there are some notable referrals from other bloggers that are greatly appreciated! Specifically, Nomad With Glassware, Life As We Make It, and Petite Pasteque (sorry, I can't do the accent on this keyboard).

There's also a significant number of referrals from a particularly odious and parasitic crap bag of a website called Nasty Banners that takes other people's work and tries to pass it off as its own. More on them later. I don't have the energy right now.

Breakdown by country:

USA - 492
UK - 38
Canada - 34 (Thanks, Canada!)
Australia - 21
Germany - 17
South Korea - 8
India - 6
Poland - 5
Russia - 5
Latvia - 4 (WTF?)

So far, everything makes sense. Statistics seem pretty solid. Fox News viewers must really be morons. But for what, you ask, are these readers searching?

Well, in the last month, Boss Hogg beat out Uncle Jesse with 54 searches to 35. Also, given that The Gospel According to Duke is far and away my most popular post, statistics say there are a lot more "Dukes of Hazzard" fans out there than I thought possible.

"Genie" led 25 online searches to my blog.

"Drinking Stories" appropriately accounted for 21 hits.

"Frogdog" comes in at 12.

"Mordecai" Children of the Corn gets a respectable 9.

Still, I get it. All of these are things I've posted about and form a logical pathway through the intertubes to my humble cyber affectation...but then there's this:

"Dad son masturbation stories." 1 search.

Fuck statistics. I'm watching Fox News.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


There's a kid who plays for Texas Tech's football team named Happiness Osunde. Unfortunately, he suffered a horrific injury against Baylor last night so his name is more than a little ironic at the moment. I was watching last night's game (Sic 'em Bears!) and I started to think about Happiness, the player initially and then the idea, while the television announcers were showing images of Happiness' knee folding gruesomely in the wrong direction.

How can you not be struck by a name like Happiness? I know nothing of his background, but my initial reaction, although I'm not sure I'd name one of my own children Happiness, is that it's a wonderful name. How many times do you say your child's name from the time he is born to the time you never say anything again? Even calling him to dinner is, although I'm sure at some point it becomes routine, a subliminal reminder of the joy his birth has brought into your life. Happiness the person, just like happiness the idea, is something that requires(d) nurturing and patience and practice. Maybe you didn't get it right on Monday, but there's always Tuesday. Maybe you didn't get it right in January, but there's always February. Maybe you didn't get it right in 2011, but there's always 2012.

I'm coming to grips with this after some recent and spectacular personal failures. Without getting into details, I've spent the better part of the last 10 years waiting for happiness. When this debt gets paid off....When I meet the right woman...When I find the right job...When I find the right city...When I lead a healthier lifestyle...When...

The tricky thing is, none of those things happen unless you commit to making them happen. The trickier thing is that none of those things happen unless you create a context in which they can happen. You can't commit to meeting your soulmate. What is that? You may as well commit to walking to the moon. A commitment to something as massive and intangible as that fails almost as soon as you've articulated it and then where are you left? You're left in the same spot you were right before you committed to it. Stuck. Waiting. Finally, after some alarming and painful wake up calls, "when" has become right now. Failures have become starting points from which I can commit to the thousand little things that eventually, after time and practice, add up to the idea of happiness. That's the hope anyway.

On a long run this morning in a cold rain I found myself smiling at nothing in particular. The run, in and of itself, wasn't that gratifying. I had stepped in a few too many puddles and the rain was picking up as the temperature was dropping. If I hadn't been running regularly for the last month or so, I would have been cold, wet, tired, and miserable. As it was, the work I'd put in on sunny days in the early fall had accumulated in the form a ludicrous, beaming smile on my face. I must have looked ridiculous to anyone who drove past me. It occurred to me that gratification and happiness are not the same thing and things I've been doing for the last 10 years that I have found gratifying have not gotten me one step closer to being happy. In fact, in many ways they've kept me waiting. Gratification is what you feel while you're doing something, but it stops as soon as that something stops.

I started to form a list in my mind of things that over time and with practice create a context in which I can nurture happiness. I'll spare you the details because I'm sure the list makes for boring reading. Promiscuous, booze fueled sex didn't make the cut. I'm not upset about that. This is going to take time and it's going to be hard, but finally, finally, finally.