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Us Weekly’s Fuh-reaking Out that Jon & Kate Are Yesterday’s News

August 5th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Us Weekly seemed hardly able to contain its glee when it reported Tuesday that Jon & Kate Plus 8‘s ratings have dropped 61 percent after a month-long hiatus following the couple’s on-air announcement that they were separating. The first line of the news item read:

“Jon and Kate Gosselin returned to TLC Monday night, but many of their fans didn’t.”

The piece went on to mention that the ratings for Monday night’s back-to-back episodes “were also down significantly from the May 25 premiere, which brought in 9.8 million viewers,” implying that viewers are less interested in Jon and Kate now that they’re not one big happy family anymore.

But in reality, the exact opposite is true. The last episode before the show’s month-long hiatus was the one in which viewers learned that Jon and Kate were separating after 10 years of marriage. There was significant media build-up prior to that episode that suggested the couple would be announcing their intention to divorce on-air. So, a record 10.6 million people tuned in.

The May 25 premiere, which set a show-ratings record at the time, also followed intense media speculation–weeks of it, in fact, by folks like Us Weekly–that one or the other of the pair was cheating and that their marriage was in trouble.

Compare these numbers to the ratings for last season’s Jon & Kate finale: 4.6 million. That was back in March, when no one thought anything was wrong with Jon and Kate’s marriage (except, maybe, that Kate was a nag), and, at the time, it was the highest-rated episode of the show EVER. The ratings for Monday night’s episodes that Us claims lost so many fans, meanwhile, were in the same range: 3.9 million for the first half-hour, 4.1 million for the second.

The conclusion here? Viewers of Jon & Kate Plus 8 doubled when their marriage started to tank. Those new viewers weren’t fans so much as schadenfreude-junkies. People’s lives falling apart–isn’t that the grist of reality TV? Once the Gosselins revealed that their marriage was, in fact, over, there wasn’t enough of a carcass to pick over anymore. Moving on… If you look at the numbers closely, the show doesn’t appear to have lost any of its loyal fan base (although god knows why, we’ve never been able to sit through an entire episode, too many children crying at once, thank you very much).

So why report it this way? Perhaps because Us Weekly has profited enormously from the Gosselins’ marriage failing–producing six consecutive covers this summer featuring either Jon or Kate–and they’re not quite done feasting off that carcass’ bones?

[Us Weekly: Jon & Kate Plus 8 Ratings Drop 61 Percent After Hiatus]
[HuffPo: Us Weekly Cover Features Jon & Kate For 6th Week In A Row]

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BIRTHDAY CELEBRASIAN! California State Controller John Chiang

July 30th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Happy birthday to California State Controller John Chiang, who turns 47 Friday!

We can only imagine what an annus horribilis it’s been for our Chief Fiscal Officer, since we broke and all. But let’s look on the bright side: if anyone’s going to get California out of this $26 billion dollar hole, it’s got to be someone like Chiang, who’s obvs good with numbers, no?

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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! People Who Suck at Math (Ahem, Iran Election Riggers)

June 26th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Two interesting stories surfaced this week about people who suck at math.

The first had to with an American Institutes for Research report that’s created a new international grading index to compare state and national math scores with those of other countries. And guess what? The U.S. sucks at math, earning a C+ overall and coming in 12th in the world. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan scored the highest in that order. (Dude. Even Kazakhstan and Latvia punked us.)

But whatever, the U.S. lagging behind Asian countries in math is not really news, right?


The other story about people sucking at math that’s a bit more surprising has to do with the Iran election. First came the report from British think tank, Chatham House, which showed that Ahmadinejad received 13 million more votes than he and other conservatives got in 2005, an unlikely occurrence considering his waning popularity. They also found that in two provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, turnout was more than 100 percent.

Then Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco, two Ph.D. candidates in political science at Columbia, performed their own mathematical experiment, publishing their results in a Washington Post op/ed. Beber and Scacco looked at “digit frequencies” in the vote counts–when numbers recur at certain rates it suggests human tampering–to come up with a statistical probability that the election was fair.

And, according to their findings, the probability that the election was fair came out to .005 percent.

What does all this mean? The Iranian election riggers–Ahmadinejad & Co.–really really really suck at math. But perhaps what makes them even stupider is that they didn’t have the good sense to outsource that numbers-tampering shit to people who don’t suck at math. To people, say, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, or Japan (duh!).

[AP: Analysis casts doubts on Ahmadinejad's victory]
[Washington Post: The Devil Is in the Digits]

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SPORTS ILLUSTRASIAN: Chinese Gymnast Slips Us Some Tongue

September 29th, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

First, gymnastics officials investigating the ages of the gold medal-winning, Chinese women’s team at the Beijing Olympics announce that they’ve expanded their inquiry to include the 2000 Sydney Olympics squad. Then the AP reports that Yang Yun, a member of that team, said last year in a televised interview that she was 14 at the time of the Sydney Games. Last week, however, Yang claimed she made a mistake:

“Everyone has misspoken before. On television shows, there are always slips of the tongue,” she said.

Which, frankly, I think is not so true these days, what with TV stars hating their co-stars and fearing the herp and TV make-out sessions being completely sexless in general.

Dan Humphrey = Duck Lips

Another problem with Yang’s statement…I thought we already established that the Chinese are good at math?

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Asians Better at Math, Especially When It Comes to Faking Gymnasts’ Ages

August 22nd, 2008 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Well, it’s official. An IOC investigasian of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team members’ ages is underway. Five out of the six team members–He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan, Deng Linlin and Li Shanshan–are suspected of being underage, which leaves only Cheng Fei (below, far left), 20, confirmed as an old bag.


In response to the media outcry about the gymnasts’ ages that started before the Games’ commencement and has not let up since, Huang Yibin, head coach of the women’s and men’s teams, said:

Our athletes participating in these games all conform to the age regulations of the Olympics. Asians have different figures than people from the West, so that’s what caused their suspicion.

TRANSLASIAN:

“Whoa, whoa. Did you guys forget that we invented the abacus?! Shit, we basically invented math. We do calculus for fun the way you guys do the NY Times Sunday crossword, the only difference being, we actually solve our puzzles every time. Our calculators–which computed the gymnasts’ ages–are so sophisticated, they can read minds AND cook dinner.

Since the beginning of time, Asians have been better at math. That is a universal truth, kinda like how blacks are better at dancing and basketball. Am I right or am I right?! Oh wait. Of course I’m right. Why? Because math don’t lie. And we’re good at math. See what I just did? That’s a little thing I like to call logic.

We invented that, too.”

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