Baseball is a game of statistics, but numbers can be deceiving. It’s possible for one batter to outperform another in both halves of the season and still receive a lower batting average:

 First Half Second Half Total Season Player A 4/10 (.400) 25/100 (.250) 29/110 (.264) Player B 35/100 (.350) 2/10 (.200) 37/110 (.336)

This is an example of Simpson’s paradox, a mathematical quirk that arises occasionally in social science and medical statistics.

# “Sending Vessels Over Niagara Falls”

“SENDING VESSELS OVER NIAGARA FALLS. — There have been three such instances. The first was in 1827. Some men got an old ship — the Michigan — which had been used on Lake Erie, and had been pronounced unseaworthy. For mere wantonness they put aboard a bear, a fox, a buffalo, a dog and some geese and sent it over the cataract. The bear jumped from the vessel before it reached the rapids, swam toward the shore, and was rescued by some humane persons. The geese went over the falls, and came to the shore below alive, and, therefore, became objects of great interest, and were sold at high prices to visitors at the Falls. The dog, fox, and buffalo were not heard of or seen again.

“Another condemned vessel, the Detroit, that had belonged to Commodore Perry’s victorious fleet, was started over the cataract in the winter of 1841, but grounded about midway in the rapids, and lay there till knocked to pieces by the ice.

“A somewhat more picturesque instance was the sending over the Canada side of a ship on fire. This occurred in 1837. The vessel was the Caroline, which had been run in the interest of the insurgents in the Canadian rebellion. It was captured by Colonel McNabb, an officer of the Canada militia, and by his orders it was set on fire then cut loose from its moorings. All in flames, it went glaring and hissing down the rapids and over the precipice, and smothered its ruddy blaze in the boiling chasm below. This was witnessed by large crowds on both sides of the falls, and was described as a most magnificent sight. Of course there was no one on board the vessel.”

— From Barkham Burroughs’ Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889

# Elton John’s Middle Name

Elton John’s middle name is Hercules.

# Unquote

“Somebody said to me, ‘But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.’ That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let’s write a swimming pool.'” — Paul McCartney

# Donald Duck’s Middle Name

Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy.

# Star Wars Hit Probability Equation

From Bespin to Yavin, the “Star Wars Hit Probability Equation” predicts the outcome of any battle:

n is the number of “bad guys,” x is the number of “good guys,” and J is the number of Jedi present (if any).

The equation reads, “The probability of a bad guy hitting his target is equal to the inverse of all bad guys present plus the cube of the number of good guys present (plus one) plus the number of Jedi present (plus one) to the 10th power.”

So the presence of a good guy reduces the bad guys’ accuracy, and having even one Jedi present is bad news for the Empire.

# Wife Carrying Championship

This July saw the Ninth Annual Wife-Carrying World Championship in Sonkajärvi, Finland.

The event, inspired by a proud Finnish history of wife-stealing, involves flinging a woman over your back and sprinting past obstacles to a finish line 253 meters away. Rules:

• “The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour’s or you may have found her farther afield,” but she has to be at least 108 pounds and 17 years old.
• If you drop your wife you’re fined 15 seconds.
• The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier.

The world record is 55.5 seconds, and the winner (Estonia) gets his wife’s weight in beer.

# Barbie

“Barbie is the ultimate ambassador for girls,” says Mattel. That’s a little dubious, given her bio. Does this sound like your daughter?

“Barbara Millicent Roberts” attended Willows High School in Willows, Wis., and Manhattan International High School in New York City. She has 38 pets, including cats, dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub, and a zebra. She also owns numerous cars, including several pink convertibles, and she operates commercial airliners when she’s not serving as a stewardess.

She dated Ken Carson for 43 years before dumping him to run for president in 2004. (Platform: create world peace, help the homeless, take care of animals.) As experience, her handlers cited “serving in the military, acting as a UNICEF ambassador and being a teacher.”

They also said she was “well-rounded.” That’s for sure. At life size, Barbie would be 5 foot 9 and measure 36-18-33. But it turns out you can be too rich and too thin: According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, Barbie would have too little body fat to menstruate.

# The Breakfast of Champions

Michael Jordan has appeared on a Wheaties box 18 times.

# No Mickey Mouse Outfit

Disneyland would fit in Disney World’s parking lot.