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The Chairman
Victor Niederhoffer


12/02/04
Nothing Humdrum About Numbers, by Victor Niederhoffer

"I am dating a man who makes his living based on where price is relative to the recent highs and lows".
"But Beth, isn't that a bit---- shall we say ---- humdrum?"
"Oh, not at all. It's what you do with the number, the durations, the look back, the walking forward, the ever-changing momentum cycles within that makes it quite fascinating. And besides he's very good in the martial arts ."

With homage to Maurice Kendall's preface. This quotation appeared in the front of The Advanced Theory of Statistics, Vol. 2, by M.G. Kendall and A. Stuart. He attributed it to K.A.C. Manderville, The Undoing of Lamia Gurdleneck.

"You haven't told me yet," said Lady Nuttal, "what it is your fiance does for a living."

"He's a statistician," replied Lamia, with an annoying sense of being on the defensive. Lady Nuttal was obviously taken aback. It had not occurred to her that statisticians entered into normal social relationships. The species, she would have surmised, was perpetuated in some collateral manner, like mules.

"But Aunt Sara, it's a very interesting profession," said Lamia warmly.

"I don't doubt it," said her aunt, who obviously doubted it very much. "To express anything important in mere figures is so plainly impossible that there must be endless scope for well-paid advice on the how to do it. But don't you think that life with a statistician would be rather, shall we say, humdrum?" Lamia was silent. She felt reluctant to discuss the surprising depth of emotional possibility which she had discovered below Edward's numerical veneer. "It's not the figures themselves," she said finally. "It's what you do with them that matters."

This appeared in O. Henry's, "The Handbook of Hymen."

"Let us sit on this log at the roadside," says I, "and forget about the inhumanity and ribaldry of poets. It is in the glorious columns of ascertained facts and legalized measures that beauty is to be found. In this very log we sit upon, Mrs. Sampson," says I, "is statistics more wonderful than any poem. The rings show it was sixty years old. At the depth of 2000 feet it would become coal in 3000 years. The deepest coal mine in the world is at Killingworth, Kentucky. A box four feet long, three feet wide, and two feet eight inches deep will hold one ton of coal. If an artery is cut, compress it above the wound. A man's leg contains 30 bones. The Tower of London was burned in 1841."

"Go on, Mr. Pratt," says Mrs. Sampson. "Them ideas is so original and soothing. I think statistics are just as lovely as they can be."

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