Not A Normal Distribution

So, I’m feeling grumpy today. Just am. Not sure why. And then I go and stupidly read an article in on the BBC News website about most babies being born at 4am. You can read the article here and I’ll be taking quotations from it.

Four o’clock in the morning is the time most babies are born spontaneously in England, with the majority arriving between 01:00 and 07:00, a study shows.

So, four o’clock is the “average” of 01:00 and 07:00. Is that how they worked this out? I’m not sure. I’m probably not going to read the original paper but it does seem a strange thing to say. Assuming that spontaneous births are reasonably random the actual number arriving at 04:00 would be quite small and the variation could be little.

While planned C-section births tended to happen on weekday mornings, births after induced labours were more likely to occur around midnight.

This makes sense. C-Sections in the morning to then make sure everyone is fine during the time when the medical cover is best. Inductions probably happen at that time because they are started in the morning and it takes that long for the effects to show. These are not surprising figures and make utter sense.

It’s this next bit that turned me into a rage.

Overall, more than 70% of births took place outside regular working hours.


The researchers said there could be implications for staffing of midwives and doctors, with only 28% of births taking place between 09:00 and 17:00 on weekdays.

So, an event that is reasonably random is spread throughout the day? About thirty percent of births happen in a time frame covering roughly 30% of the amount of time in a day. THIS IS WHAT WE WOULD EXPECT. The working day covers 1/3 of the 24 hours in a day and the number of births in that time period is about 1/3. This sentence made me swear out loud in our staff common room earlier today, much to the ammusment of my colleagues.

I’m going for a walk to calm down.

Shame On The BBC

It’s a crying shame.

I had intended to use this site to moan about various BBC news articles where the reporting was poor. It is quite clear to me now that if I pointed out every problem with just the news section I would have to leave my current job and spend all my time informing you about how bad the News section of the BBC is. It is truly awful. However, it is the least awful source of news within the UK. I occasionally look at the HuffPo app on my phone and it reports complete bollocks and also has blog articles masquerading as news items. The BBC quite clearly feels it is in a free market and that readership or just spouting news for 24 hours a day is the most important thing. Well, it’s not. I would quite happily watch BBC news if it was only on twice a day and not around the clock as it currently is. Let’s get this straight, for most of the day: nothing happens. Nothing worth reporting.

My latest problem is with one line in the new Atlantis series. Jason says to Pythagoras something along the lines of

Well, you and your triangles have been boring school children silly for thousands of years.

This is utter populist arse. Pythagoras’ Theorem occurs everywhere and is even used within relativistic equations. The music work Mr P did founded European music. All the great things that have happened can be linked in someway to Pythagoras and the early pioneers of the importance of mathematics. Perhaps Jason should have said:

We owe so much to your thoughts and insight, it’s a crying shame most people don’t value mathematics.

There are enough problems caused by a pride in how poor we are at mathematics and script writers don’t need to add to the perception that this is ok.
Wake up and smell the importance of mathematical literacy.

Rock is my life and this is my song
It’s a crying shame
That some of us have not survived
No use in asking how it happened
But very few are left alive

Bachman Turner Overdrive