We just received this note from which I’ll slightly alter to protect the guilty:
Subject: Research: People & dogs
I am doing research for a company called, [cookbook] Press in [a kind of a big city by Iowa standards], Iowa. They publish small cookbooks and single country books highlighting culture, crafts & history of the specific nationality, with beautiful photographs included.
Currently one of their projects is a book written as an autobiography about the dog, May, a Labra-doodle owned by the [cookbook] Press owner. After the huge success with, Marley & Me, this has inspired [our press] to produce this book.
I am researching a chapter titled: People that sleep with their dogs.
I believe the study conducted by the “Stanley Lotus Institute of Farming” by Rob R Barron may be something interesting to include in the book.
I notice this work is copyrighted on Wire.com [sic] How may I go about accessing the study? I seem to be hitting a few brick walls. Naturally, full credit would be given to The Institute as well as Mr. Barron for the work cited.
Could you be so kind as to direct me to the proper access of this study.
Thank you kindly for your attention to this matter.
To which I answered:
the article that i referred to in a posting to my class in 2000 was published in Wired magazine (a Conte Nast property)
You’ll notice that Wired author, Jon Rochmis, points humorously to this SF Chronicle article
The Stanford study by Nie is summarized with graphs in this press release Nie and/or Erbring are the folks if you want to talk about the survey
All of that said, there is no “Stanley Lotus Institute of Farming” to my knowledge. In fact, I asked my students to ascertain the trustworthiness of the Wired article. The brighter ones realized that Jon Rochmis was committing satire.
You can reach Jon Rochmis at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask him about the dog study, I’m sure it will make his day.
Next I had a wonderful exchange with Jon Rochmis who told me this about the genesis of his now 8 year old satire:
As I recall, we were in our morning story budget meeting when the Stanford study was brought up. Jokes flew. Jaws slackened. Eyes widened.
I am a Cal guy. If you had seen a report like this from, say, Duke, perhaps you might have reacted similarily. “I gotta do something on this,” I said.
I don’t think I took more than a couple of hours on the piece; in fact, I’m sure I didn’t (yes, I know, it probably shows).
Some inside jokes: The official name of Stanford is Leland Stanford Junior University (we Cal guys like to point out that our rivals are, indeed, a Junior University). He built the school in memory of his namesake son who died young. Leland Stanford was one of the “robber barons” involved in the transcontinental railroad (he was president of Central Pacific, I believe) and the building of San Francisco, hence the reference to Rob. R. Barron in the piece. Stanford is also referred to as “The Farm” because of its bucolic setting. And if you transpose the initials “LS,” you get “SL,” which for some reason I can’t now recall, I turned in to “Stanley Lotus” and the “Institute of Farming.”
Yes, you are right: this made my day (but it’s still early yet here on the far left coast). Thanks for including me in this.
But WAIT THERE’S MORE! Jon just got this note from the researcher in Iowa:
Subject: Stanley Lotus Institute of Farming
We do not know each other, thank god!
My hat is off to you for wasting good half an hour of my life tracking down your satirical study published on Wire.com [sic]
It was the dog part I was after, since I am researching a dog book,
the chapter: people who sleep with their dogs.
I am a Luddite and don’t even like the internet, so thanks for making it even more unfriendly!
I’m off to the library where I can touch something real.
That not being YOU!
Have a great day and I hope someone yanks your chain today for me.
When I want satire I’ll tune into one of the best, Stephen Colbert