Inhuman Swill : Statistics

As the Republican National Convention gets into full swing today, one of the topics that probably won't be talked about very much is Mitt Romney's religion. It's odd that this has become such a non-issue during the campaign, given that a) Romney is the first Mormon ever to receive a major-party presidential nomination, and b) the Mormon Church is the fourth largest church in America.

Wait, what? The fourth largest?

Yes, I too was startled by that statistic, which I've been hearing time and again from various outlets—for instance, in an "On the Media" story from late last year about the LDS Church's "I'm a Mormon" ad campaign. I was catching up on that episode via podcast when this statement from LDS Internet and Advertising Senior Manager Ron Wilson caught my ear:

"Even though the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest church, fifty percent of the population didn't really know who we were."
The fourth largest church. I was raised Mormon, which means I was raised with the Mormon inferiority complex. Somehow that assertion didn't strike me as quite right. It sounded like a small man reporting his height in inches, not feet. I decided to do some digging.
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The spread

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Interesting poll results so far. On the surface it seems odd that the 5-, 6-, and 7-digit folks are clustered pretty evenly, although there are (one would guess) 10 times as many 6's as 5's overall, and 100 times as many 7's as 5's. Maybe this is a reflection of a tendency that as LJ grows by an order of magnitude, the likelihood of friending someone who's been on longer drops by almost an order of magnitude? Bigger pool and all.

[info]darius, a 4-digit midget, is da man! And [info]paulmelko is our lone newest of the newbies.

So far.

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My favorite song

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I've talked here before about the home music server I created, which lets me and Laura listen to any of our 43,193 (and counting) MP3s from any location with a web browser and a broadband connection. My server has been operating for nearly three years, though it was only in February 2004 that I enabled it to keep track of what I listen to.

I hadn't checked my stats for quite some time, but this morning I thought I'd take a look and see what my most-played tracks are. I was pleased though not exactly surprised to see that Steely Dan's "West of Hollywood" (from Two Against Nature) occupied the top spot, with 23 virtual spins in these past 29 months. Less than once a month may not seem like very heavy rotation, but it's pretty significant when you consider that in that same span I've only listened to 23,898 of the tracks in my collection. (That's unique tracks I'm counting there, not the number of times those tracks have been played.)

I figure this is as good a measuring stick as any for saying that, in practical terms, "West of Hollywood" is my favorite song. And it is a great song. The lyrics hook me and always suck me in, and when Donald Fagen gets to the bridge part and croaks out, "She reached out for my hand while I watched myself lurch across the room, and I almost got there, I almost got there," I never fail to get a shiver. But the best part of this track is the, like, four minute Chris Potter sax solo, where Donald and Walter put the poor cat through a truly punishing series of changes and he just doesn't quit. It's an amazing outro to an amazing record.

So yeah, that's totally fair. I'll cop to "West of Hollywood" as my favorite song.

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