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Archive for February, 2009


1/2 of All Marriages Don't Fail! Do the math!

wed.jpg I’m sure that everyone has heard the stat: “50% of all marriages end in divorce.” That statistic has been a pet-peeve of mine for years. It’s completely false and would like everyone that reads this to NEVER use that phrase again, please.

I downloaded several reports from the CDC and the census to get the number of marriages and divorces. Funny, they report the number of marriages (they track it through marriage licenses issued), but they don’t track the total number of divorces. According to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report from 2006, there were 2,249,000 marriages. That is a rate of 7.3 per 1000. The total divorces are not given, because they don’t have a way to track it. However, they have a rate of 3.6 per 1000. So, 3.6 is about half of 7.3, so that’s where the 50% (well, almost 50% comes in). So, best I can figure taking 49.3% of 2.249 million is 1,109,095 end in divorce.

So, that’s it? Case closed. The stats prove it, right? Wrong. According to the census, the total number of marriages is about 55.2 million. So, we just established that 1.109 million marriages fail each year for 50% of all marriages to fail 27.6 million couples need to get divorced. Follow me? Each year 2.2 million go into the marriage pool while 1.1 million get out. So, each year we are adding another 1.1 million to the total population of married people.

Think of it this way. The first year, I give you two apples. Half way through the year, I take one away. Now you have one apple. (Am I typing slow enough for you?) The second year, I give you two more apples, for a total of 3. Half way through the year, I take 1 (not 1.5 away). Now, you have 2 apples at the end of the year. Year three, I give you 2 more apples, for a total of 4 and take one away 6 months later. So you end the year with 3. Are you following me here, camera guy?

So, with 55 million marriages in the pool and 1.1 million failing, actually puts the divorce rate at…..(drumroll please)……2% of all marriages fail.

If we used the same 50% logic, then the headlines should read:

56% of All People Die Every Year

Because the rate of births in 2006 were 14.3, while deaths came in at 8.1 or 56%. But see, the 4.3 million people born in 2006 joined the almost 297 million living people in America while 2.4 million went to the big Sham-Wow in the sky.

Like Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Comments?


Watching stuff being made is cool.

I’m not exactly sure where I got it from or when it started, but I have always liked something more if I see how it was made.

About 3 years ago, I was flipping channels and I happened across a PBS special on Herbie Hancock – Possibilities. It’s a documentary that shows the making of the album: Possibilities. Now, to this point, I had one Herbie Hancock disk in my collection and as far as being able to identify a song besides “Rockit“, I would fall short with anything past Cantaloupe Island. This album featured duos with Sting, Paul Simon, John Mayer & Christina Aguilera, to name a few. I think what I will remember most about watching it was that Truce came and sat next to me when he heard Christina Aguilera singing and watched then entire show with me. This was 3+ years ago and Truce didn’t stay put for more than 2 minutes if Elmo wasn’t involved. So, for him to sit and watch a non-Sesame Street documentary for about 2 hours, floored me. I think that may be the night that he started to like jazz. I can put on the jazz station in the car and he will listen away. He likes the horns best. But, I fell in love with the creative process that was shown. Songs from that album make the iPod top 25 list a couple years back, that is for sure.

About the same story is true for the song “In Repair” off of Continuum, by John Mayer. I didn’t really like the song that much, but included in the disk was the video of the making of that song. I was amazed to find out that the keyboard/organ sound at the beginning of the song is actually a guitar. The video shows John having no song at the beginning of the day to putting the finishing touches on it at 1 a.m. Being able to create a song in one day and being able to watch that was cool. In Repair remains one of my favorite songs on that album.

After seeing David Gray’s “making of” video for Life in Slow Motion, I bought his entire catalogue. So, if you want me to get hooked on a group or album, just include a video that shows them in the studio and I will plop my money down.


Two Great TED Talks to Share


I stumbled onto TED about 4 years ago. For those of you that don’t know, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design. To quote from them: “It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.” The premise of TED is to give speakers 20 minutes to share their ideas, talents or findings with the world. I have watched hours of TED videos in the past 4 years.

The other day I watched a talk by Barry Schwartz on the Loss of our Wisdom. It’s a great talk and speaks volumes about the state of our society. It’s well worth the 20 minutes.

Just tonight while flipping through TED talks on Tivo, I watched a great one by Larry Lessig: How creativity is being strangled by the law. As someone trying to put creative content out there, I think that it’s especially interesting. (He even references John Philip Sousa, so that makes it cool on it’s own right.)

Bonus video:
One of my favorite all time TED talks is: Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen


Post Secret Event

This week, Jen and I attended a Post Secret Event held at the U of I. What is a “Post Secret Event”? Well, that’s a good question, first you probably should know what Post Secret is. Post Secret is an art project started by Frank Warren. He started it by walking around Washington DC passing out post cards that were blank on one side and had instructions to share their secrets on the other. He would introduce himself, “Hi, my name is Frank and I collect secrets.” That’s how it began and slowly he started to get people to mail him their secrets. A few a day at first to now he receives over 1000 a week. That’s the short version, for the extended-dance-mix version, click here.

Every Sunday, Frank posts about 20 new cards on his blog. I first heard about Post Secret a couple of years ago and have been following it since. The popularity of this project has been nothing short of unbelievable. To date, he’s received over 300,000 secrets, has published 4 books (with a 5th on the way) and has had over 215 million visitors to his site.

I think it is one of the coolest social experiments that has ever existed. The cards range from the funny; “I cried when my favorite Sim died.” , to the weird; “I love the smell of my pee after I drink coffee.”, to the brutally serious; “After I was date-raped, I dated and slept with the guy that did it 3 more times. I hoped that if I could make it a “real” relationship, I wouldn’t have to admit to myself that the rape was real.”

At the event he shared with the group some of the postcards that he couldn’t publish in the books because they had copyright infringements or were too graphic. He also shared some of the stories behind some of the secrets. He then asked if anyone would like to share a secret with the group. Several people went to the microphones and shared. It’s amazing to me what effect this project has had on peoples lives. Frank has used it to support the national suicide help line, raising money for their cause to keep the line going. I think it also lets people know that they are not alone and that others have dealt or are dealing with the same problems they are. One kid that shared his secret at our event said that he denied for 10 years that he was gay and would encourage anyone that is struggling with that decision to not spend another day fighting it and not live the life he’s had for the past 10 years.

Frank believes that we all have secrets and that everyday we decide to bury those secrets deep down inside of us or we choose to share them and free ourselves of that burden. If you have not read any of the books, I would encourage you to pick one up. I have put links to them down below.