Thursday, 10 December 2009
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Friday, 25 September 2009
Not surprisingly, the plant was built with the help of 5 million Euro from the EU's 5th Framework Programme (no, I hadn't heard of it either). The EU seems keen on projects like this as illustrated by the EU Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs', comment that "These new technologies give Europe a new option to combat climate change and increase energy security while strengthening the competitiveness of the European industrial sector and creating jobs and growth,". Creating jobs and growth with four hours of electricity a day? I despair.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Monday, 14 September 2009
It is called the Gregorian calendar after Pope Gregory XIII who described the new calendar in a Papal Bull issued on February 24th 1582. Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, amongst others, all adopted the new calendar before the end of the year. As you can see it took 170 years before Britain decided to adopt the calendar that we still use today.
Lady Day is on 25th March and was, prior to 1752, the first day of the New Year. This meant that, for example, 24th March 1700 was followed by 25th March 1701. This was the day that debts were settled and, in particular, the tax year finished. It was decided that the loss of eleven days in September 1752 would unfairly shorten the tax year so it was moved back to the 5th April which remains to this day as the end of our tax year.
Friday, 11 September 2009
This graph shows the extent of the sea ice in the Arctic. As you can see it goes up in the winter and down in the summer. This year seems pretty consistent with the previous years this century.
This graph shows the daily mean temperature north of the 80th northern parallel, as a function of the day of year. The blue line is at what we call 0 Celsius. AS you can see there are only about 80 days of the year when the temperature gets above freezing.
This chart shows the status of the populations in 2005 and is the most recent I can find. Of the nineteen sub-populations five are declining, five are stable, two are increasing and there is insufficient data on the remaining seven.
What conclusion would you draw?
Today I wake up to hear that the Prime Minister has written an article for the Daily Telegraph in which he apologises for the way Dr. Turing was treated. What nonsense is this?
I fail to see how one can say sorry for something that one has not actually had any part in. In fact Mr. Brown makes it worse by saying "we're sorry" as if he is speaking for me. He is not. I might regret the way that this country treated Dr. Turing but how can I possibly apologise for it?
This politically correct diatribe includes the phrase "his treatment was of course utterly unfair". What definition of unfair is Mr. Brown using? Not one that I can make any sense of. He was tried and found guilty of a crime. The fact that we no longer consider his actions to be criminal doesn't mean that he was treated unfairly.
Mr. Brown's apology is misguided and pointless. It is a waste of time to apologise to a man that is dead, where there are no surviving members of the family and the speaker has had no involvement in the act being apologised for. The words that sum up this folly are vacuous, illogical, misguided and a complete and utter
* The version available today appears to have a shorter title, Alan Turing: The Enigma.
Friday, 4 September 2009
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.
Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
It is indicative of our times that a learned society, whose founding mission was "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics", has no qualms with adopting a policy that includes the phrase "The evidence is incontrovertible". Any scientist will tell you that nothing is incontrovertible. A number of people thought that this policy was not acceptable and wrote an open letter to the APS urging the council to revise its policy on climate change, see here.
On the 22 July, 2009, the weekly journal Nature published the following letter from six APS members (one can only see the version in Nature if one subscribes)
Petitioning for a revised statement on climate change
By S. Fred Singer, Hal Lewis, Will Happer, Larry Gould, Roger Cohen & Robert H. Austin
We write in response to your issue discussing “the coming climate crunch”, including the Editorial ‘Time to act‘ (Nature 458, 10771078; 2009). We feel it is alarmist.
We are among more than 50 current and former members of the American Physical Society (APS) who have signed an open letter to the APS Council this month, calling for a reconsideration of its November 2007 policy statement on climate change (see open letter at http://tinyurl.com/lg266u; APS statement at http://tinyurl.com/56zqxr). The letter proposes an alternative statement, which the signatories believe to be a more accurate representation of the current scientific evidence. It requests that an objective scientific process be established, devoid of political or financial agendas, to help prevent subversion of the scientific process and the intolerance towards scientific disagreement that pervades the climate issue.
On 1 May 2009, the APS Council decided to review its current statement via a high-level subcommittee of respected senior scientists. We applaud this decision. It is the first such reappraisal by a major scientific professional society that we are aware of, and we hope it will lead to meaningful change that reflects a more balanced view of climate-change issues
That the society is reviewing the statement is wonderful news.
The Royal Society, an institution that is even more venerable than the APS, is a proponent of climate change which has prompted Rupert Wyndham to write a letter to the society's president, Lord Rees. You can read it here. Unfortunately, I don't think we will see a similar review of the Royal Society's stance.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
After publication, scientists expect that data and other research materials will be shared with qualified colleagues upon request. Indeed, a number of federal agencies, journals, and professional societies have established policies requiring the sharing of research materials. Sometimes these materials are too voluminous, unwieldy, or costly to share freely and quickly. But in those fields in which sharing is possible, a scientist who is unwilling to share research materials with qualified colleagues runs the risk of not being trusted or respected. In a profession where so much depends on interpersonal interactions, the professional isolation that can follow a loss of trust can damage a scientist's work.
Consequently, when the Met Office was approached for the raw data which underpins their climate change research it was expected that they would comply. Apart from anything else they are a public body and I, as a taxpayer, am of the opinion that that data is mine. When Steve McIntyre tried to get hold of the information he was told that he couldn't have it. What is curious is that this request was for a copy of the data that had been previously supplied to Peter Webster at Georgia Tech. If it was acceptable to supply him why was it not acceptable to send it to Steve McIntyre? Read the whole story here.
I notice that there is a petition on the Number 10 website that is asking the Prime Minister 'to Force the Climate Research Unit, or other publicly funded organisations to release the source codes used in their computer models', it can be found here.
Doctors are similar. They listen to your description of your symptoms and then ask searching questions to determine the probable cause of your illness. The difficulty is that different illnesses have this irritating habit of presenting very similar symptoms and it is the Doctor's skill and experience that enables him to determine the underlying cause of your discomfort.
Yesterday, the swine flu hot line was launched. The hot line is manned by people who are not Doctors. They have a series of questions to ask to determine whether you have swine flu. It is an automatic process that cannot possibly replace a Doctor. There is always the possibility that someone with a different illness could be misdiagnosed. It was predicted here and it has already occurred, see here
Thursday, 23 July 2009
I reached Chapter 5, ‘A Matter of Scale’ where he starts by referring to representations of the Solar system designed to give a feel for the relative distances involved. You know the sort of thing, imagine the sun is a football then the earth will be a pea thirty yards away. Well, he does just that but he starts with the sun as a one foot diameter ball in the middle of Central Park, New York. Then he lists all the planets giving their diameter and distance from the sun so that Earth turns out to be 0.110 inches in diameter and positioned 107 feet away from the sun. All very interesting but I have read all this before. The bit I didn’t know, though, was where the closest star, Proxima Centauri, would be on this scale. Before you read on hazard a guess to how far away this representation of the start will be from our one foot diameter sun. It transpires that it will be 5,500 miles away or, with Central Park as the starting point, in Jerusalem. Isn’t that just amazing?
Further down the article there is a list of the top 25 things that we forget including, at number 22, buying a lottery ticket. That was a surprise wasn’t it?
The question is how good can this research be? If we are talking about forgetting could it not be the case that the respondents have forgotten the thing they are most likely to forget?
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
You don't need to worry though because you are not a landlord. Well, perhaps you do according to this.
Friday, 17 July 2009
Monday, 13 July 2009
Dave: Is that right?
Steve: Yeah, they also want to make divorce harder.
Dave: Well, that's no bad thing.
Steve: You don't think so?
Dave: No, well divorce is painful and expensive, look at Brian.
Steve: He should never have married her in the first place. He was never home, that's why Sarah started to look elsewhere.
Dave: I suppose they should have lived together.
Steve: The amount of time Brian spent on the road you wouldn't have known that they were living together.
There is a short pause while both reflect on Brian's recent history.
Dave: You approve of cohabiting couples getting the same rights as married ones, yeah?
Dave: Well how do you know when two people are cohabiting, then?
Steve: They live together.
Dave: Pete and Sandy live together but they aren't cohabiting.
Steve: Given the fact that Sandy is a lesbian everybody knows that they aren't cohabiting.
Dave: So the difference between just living together and cohabiting is whether their friends know that they are cohabiting or not.
Steve: I guess so.
Dave: But what about Mark and that Susan, she started off as a flat mate and they ended up getting married. What if they had just moved into the same bedroom in the same flat? When would they have stopped being flat mates and become a couple?
Steve: Well, they started going out last November.
Dave: Should they have got married rights last November, then?
Steve: Well not until they had been going out for a while.
Dave: So, when then.
Steve: You remember at that Karaoke evening at The Bull when Mark announced the fact that they were engaged?
Steve: Well, people who want to cohabit should go through a similar sort of announcement so that everybody knows what they intend to do.
Dave: You mean announce your intention in front of a group of peers, friends and relatives.
Dave: But the authorities don't know that you have done that. They will need to record it somewhere so that everybody can tell from which date the rights begin.
Steve: Well, there could be a person who you went to and told and the rights would start from the date that you told this official person.
Dave: So it would make sense to invite your mates and family along to this telling the official so that it became a sort of celebration of your getting together?
Dave: So, let's put that all together. If cohabiting couples want to get the same rights as married couples then they need to invite a few friends, peers and relatives to a special place where they stand up and tell an official person that they intend to spend the rest of their life as a cohabiting couple.
Steve: That's right! It's a good idea isn't it?
Dave: Steve, you plonker, you have just re-invented marriage!
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
The question that was asked was 'Is it right that Men and women play for equal prize money when men play five sets and women three sets?' The reason that I didn't respond at the time was that although I could argue for and against I hadn't got an answer. This has been bothering me for some time but I believe I have come to a conclusion and so I am now prepared to tackle this thorny issue.
My initial response to this question has always been that is clearly inequitable. The men play more sets and, therefore, should get more prize money. One might be swayed be the argument that since the gentlemen's matches are longer on average, then they should get rewarded proportionally more.
However, a moment's reflection shows that this analysis is too simplistic. Consider going to watch a film, the ticket price is not calculated per minute. To go and see Blood: The Last Vampire costs exactly the same at our local cinema as it does to watch Public Enemies despite the fact that the latter lasts for two hours and twenty minutes which is fifty-one minutes longer than the former.
In addition, one only has to consider how people would react to the suggestion that the winner of the gentlemen's singles is a greater champion that the winner of the ladies' singles because he has played more games. Nobody would find that acceptable. They would argue that they are both the winners of their respective competitions and that it is churlish to say that one is greater that the other. One must conclude that if neither is greater than the other then they should both receive the same prize money. I am now convinced that the current state of affairs is as it should be. There is still one un-answered question, though; Given that they are rewarded with the same prize money, is there any reason why women should not play five sets?
Semi-Finalist Loser £212,500
Quarter-Finalist Loser £106,250
Fourth Round Loser £53,250
Third Round Loser £29,250
Second Round Loser £17,750
First Round Loser £10,750
So it would seem that Mr Murray is guaranteed at least £106,250.
Make that £212,500.
I am not going to get into a debate about climate change here. What I want to consider is how a Government Minister can talk absolute twaddle and nobody bothers to question what has been said. Between today and the 1st January 2020 there are 3,836 days. If we are going to erect 7,000 wind turbines in that time then we need to erect 1.82 turbines on average every day, including Sundays, in order to get there. If we spend a year sorting out the leases this average goes up to over 2 per day. This is clearly impossible. What astounds me is that if I can perform this elementary calculation why hasn't anybody else? Or have I missed something?
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Later we learn that these cohorts will be given advice on 'prophylactic antiviral medicine to take as a precautionary/preventative measure'. Quite apart from my dislike of the '/' symbol when the word 'and' or 'or' could just as easily been used, the word prophylactic means preventative thus rendering the sentence tautological.
In the penultimate paragraph we are told that 'anyone with symptoms should self isolate and limit their contact with others.' It is a bit lax on the specifying which symptoms they are referring to but even so 'self isolate' is an awful turn of phrase whereas 'isolate oneself' would have been perfectly acceptable.
In the concluding paragraph, we are reminded that in order to reduce the transmission of all viruses we should use 'good respiratory hand hygiene'. Any suggestions as to what constitutes a 'respiratory hand' is will be gratefully received.
Finally, the letter is signed by a 'Consultant in Health Protection' and no, I have never heard of one of them before either.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
I don’t know about you, but I am pretty close to breaking point. What is the maximum dosage of Valium that can safely be
taken? The 10-horse race for the Speaker’s chair caused a tsunami of feverish apathy to sweep over the nation. Like the
rest of the country, I find the outcome is something about which I am passionately indifferent.
Professional comedians will be concerned, however, by the competition posed by so many old lags from the slime-green
benches, while affecting a self-deprecatory mien, giving free range to their narcissism, self regard, ambition and
pomposity. John Bercow, while trying to convey the impression he was not speaking from notes, looked like Barack Obama
operating from a malfunctioning auto-cue. Now that he has won he will be able to stop pretending he is a Conservative –
unlike Dave, who will have to keep on pretending indefinitely.
This earth-shattering contest is being proclaimed (by the scoundrels on the slime-green benches) as the renaissance of
the House of Commons. Let us hope that is as untrue as everything else they tell us. A renascent House of Commons would
be the worst possible news for Britain: a decaying, moribund, marginalised Commons would be infinitely preferable. No
other institution has contributed comparably to the country’s decline.
This chamber was brought out of well-deserved obscurity to rubber-stamp the theft of Church lands by Henry VIII, creating
centuries of poverty-stricken criminality. By 1649 the pygmies had grown big enough to murder the King; in 1688 they
brought in a foreign usurper to rule over Britain; thereafter, enclosures of common land were their chief preoccupation.
The latest generation of MPs has faithfully continued the traditions of rapacious self-interest, money-grubbing at public
expense and arbitrary exercise of unreasonable power established by its predecessors.
The new European parliament, which represents all the worst features of Westminster on a much larger scale, will begin
from this year to take over Westminster’s remaining powers. We should close down the gothic slum on the Thames and try
its denizens for treason worse than that committed by anybody hanged at Tyburn. The present state of Britain suggests the
epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren is also an appropriate panegyric for this dead legislature: si monumentum requiris,
As for the tired hype of the Speaker’s election being promoted by the media, you can hear the public response if you
listen to the pulse of the nation behind the pseudo-excitement: Zzzzz…
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Who in their right mind would think that that was a good idea?
So for whom do I vote to foster this desirable, for me, utopia? Well, I have always thought that the Conservative party was the closest I could get but I have been worried by the Blair-lite attitude of David Cameron. I feel that he is peddling a bland centrist approach that was what the country clearly wanted twelve years ago; I am not sure that this is the case now. I am even more sure that what is being offered doesn’t hold the prospect of the sort of world I would like to see. My concerns about David Cameron are confirmed by a piece written by Gerald Warner in today’s Daily Telegraph, which I would heartily recommend reading. In it he concludes:
I know there are many patriotic, Conservative-inclined voters who flinch from such honest appraisal of Cameron. The vital thing is to get rid of Labour; Cameron is better than Brown; the Tories will come round; life would be more liveable under their rule... Sorry, but that kind of self-deception can only lead to disaster. Three months into a Cameron government, with Britain absorbed into Europe, protests ignored, the same PC tyranny, the same impotence in the face of mass immigration, the whole Blair agenda continuing, such comfort-seekers would recognise their mistake - too late.
The decades-old, arrogant mantra of liberal Tory grandees regarding their betrayed voters - "They have nowhere else to go" - no longer obtains. Dave will be responsible for the dissolution of the historic Tory Party.
Whither my vote now?
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Anyway, as reported in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph,
The Commission aims to create three “authorities” with their own staff, full-time president and independent budget. If there is a dispute between regulators from EU countries over how to proceed, these EU bodies can “settle the matter” by binding mediation. The European Court would have final jurisdiction. The wording would appear to reduce Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) to a subservient arm of the EU apparatus, limited to “daily oversight”.
So, there you have the European Union in a nutshell. A bunch of people you never elected have taken advantage of the recent banking crisis and are going to take control of our banking, insurance and securities business. If you think I am being paranoid then look at the following comments. From a previous Daily Telegraph article:
"This is exactly what I feared would happen," said Ruth Lea, director of UK think-tank Global Vision. "The EU is taking advantage of the crisis to extend its control over the British financial system. It is very threatening because it is almost impossible to repeal anything in the EU, however damaging it proves to be."
Further on it the same article we read:
Antonio Borges, chair of the Hedge Funds Standards Board, said the blizzard of EU proposals had been hijacked by political forces and were "out of control".
"There is little intellectual foundation to what they are doing," he said. "You would have thought that since 80pc of Europe's hedge funds are in Britain, and are already regulated, that the FSA would have a big say [on hedge fund proposals], but the FSA was marginalised. The reality is that a great deal of regulatory power is going to Brussels."
But don't worry because Alistair Darling has saved us. As quoted in yesterday's Guardian
Darling said: "The thing that concerned us, which we could not live with, was a proposal whereby there might be an agreement reached by regulators at a European level that would have had domestic fiscal consequences for domestic governments. In other words, they might have been able to say to a government 'you've got to do something about a bank', therefore that government would have had to ask its taxpayers to contribute."
Which has resulted in …
a key pledge that any decisions made would not affect the fiscal responsibilities of nation states.
To put it simply, we cannot do anything about EU control over our banks, our insurance companies and our hedge funds but we have managed to stop them indirectly dictating our government spending.
Isn't wonderful being part of the EU?
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Anyway, the point of this diatribe is that it may cost £5bn to treat smoking related diseases but the total revenue from raised from tobacco product sales in 2007 was £9.9bn. Since I believe that people should have the freedom to choose to smoke if they so desire then I think the country comes out of it rather well and the reports of this report are remiss in not mentioning the fact that smokers more than pay for their own treatment. Incidentally, some people believe that if nobody smoked we would all live longer and cost the NHS a lot more than £5bn in treating age related diseases.
Dr Allender has a qualification I have not heard of before, to wit a Bachelor Applied Science (Human Movement) from the University of Ballarat.
* Except here
Monday, 8 June 2009
So far, so ordinary; I would be surprised if anybody in the IT sector wasn't aware of this happening. What I wasn't aware of until I heard Radio 4's File on Four (website here, transcript here and listen again here) last night, was that intra-company visas should be used where staff have specific company knowledge or distinct skills which were not available in the UK. According to Keith Sharp, marketing director of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM*), "Government guidelines are very clear that there can be no cost advantage in bringing in an Indian IT professional on a temporary assignment as opposed to a local contractor." In other words the Indian IT worker should be paid the same as a UK based contractor. According to Ann Swain, head of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, there are "about 35,000 IT professionals coming into the UK frankly in a market that is not short of IT professionals in the incumbent workforce".
All of which leads one to ask the question "If it is not a cost saving then why are companies doing it?"
* An Indian Chamber of Commerce that serves as an interface to the Indian software and BPO industry.
Friday, 5 June 2009
Whilst discussing words and books with a colleague at work I mentioned the outline of a book which was recommended to me many years ago but whose title I had forgotten. I did recall, though, that it sounded the same as someone chanting the letters l, m, n, o, p. Entering the search string lmnop on Wikipedia returned a page about the very book I was after namely, Ella Minnow Pea. Even better though is the description at the top of the Wikipedia entry which describes the book as "a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable". What a wonderful sentence.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Who would have thought that a chance remark by Pierre would have led me to discover Stigler's law?
Friday, 29 May 2009
Is a natural semi-laxative, due to the live yeast.
Guinness is thought to be a natural aphrodisiac.
Guinness is very high in Iron, and in Ireland has been given to blood donors, post-operative stomach, and intestinal patients.
The hops used in Guinness prevent excessive calcium build-up, as in kidney stones.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
If I ask you what the likelihood is that the next person who speaks to you today has an above average number of legs, I imagine you may say something along the lines of "not bloody likely". However, you would be WRONG. The vast majority of us have an above average number of legs.
How so I hear you say?
Well - lets say for simplicity's sake that a desert island has 500 inhabitants. 499 of these people have 2 legs. However, a retired pirate sporting a peg leg also lives there. This makes a total of 999 legs on our fictional island.
So the average number of legs is 999/500 (legs/people) = 1.99 legs
There you have it me hearties. The moral of the story: always look at the figures! If you want a better explanation, check out asymmetric distributions:
Are you bored yet?
So - Paul is off sunning himself or something similar that involves not being at work. Hence, I have been invited to guest blog on grasp the mettle for the rest of the week....
Well, I don't really know what I will blog about; if it will be rubbish, or if anyone will actually read it or care. So I apologise if all my posts are actually just a stream of my strange consciousness....but hey rubbish in, rubbish out as they say.
A little about me, for those who haven't had the dubious pleasure of making my acquaintance. I'm a 27 year old guy who works in the same office as Paul. My favourite things are Guinness, Haribo sweets and penguins. I also like marking things out of 10, foreign films and the band Bloc Party. I dislike spiders, mushrooms and mullets.
Introduction over, I'll blog something later whilst I'm supposed to be doing work!x
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
* Clearly, not at the leading edge of grammar.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
This proposal also removes accountability. I will have no say on who serves on this independent body whereas I do have a say (too little and too infrequently but that is another story) on who serves in parliament.
The allowances saga is but a symptom of the malaise that has infected parliament for the past forty years. A self-induced illness caused by handing power to the EU which has made its existence increasingly irrelevant. Creating an independent body to oversee MPs remuneration would be yet another step along the way to complete loss of sovereignty of government.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Three of them, an advertising agency in Leeds called Horne, a company of designers called 3s in London and a company of lingerie designers called Simone Perele in Surrey all suffer from the problem of what product is it that one might one measure?
The fourth place is a restaurant called The Chancery in London. I suppose that the number of meals produced per hour or the average time taken to produce a meal would be a good start. Great care would have to be taken that all other factors such as the number of customers, the type of meal ordered and how many people were working in the kitchen were taken into account.
So, without further information, I feel that the above statistics are dubious to say the least. This is exacerbated by the later statement that "Employees generally felt that they had done a better job during the showering phase, with a 16 per cent increase". A 16% increase in what?
Thus, one concludes, that this is all a PR exercise but PR for whom? All is revealed in the last line of the report which states "The survey was conducted by Lucre for their client Mira Showers". Nuff said.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Today I notice that they have gone further by erecting notices that tell me how to wash my hands and how to sneeze. I am not sure how I managed to do these things correctly in the past without being reminded. My only worry now is that I won't know what to do if I feel a sneeze coming on and I am not near the gents toilet.
There will be 72 MEPs representing the United Kingdom. This is a reduction from the 78 we currently have.
2) What constituency are you in?
A difficult question for me to answer since I do not know where you are but the constituencies in the UK are:
South East England
South West England
North West England
North East England
Yorkshire and the Humber
East of England
3) How many MEP are elected to represent that constituency?
|South East England||10||8m||800k|
|South West England||6*||4.9m||817k|
|North West England||8*||6.7m||838k|
|North East England||3||2.5m||833k|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||6||5.1m||850k|
|East of England||7||5.4m||771k|
* One seat less than in 2004.
Compare this with the table at Wikipedia
4) How many votes do you have?
If you are eligible to vote then you will be able to cast one vote.
5) What will you see listed on the ballot paper?
You will see the names of the parties that are fielding candidates. Unlike national and local elections you will not see the names of the candidates.
6) How do they determine who will represent you when all the votes have been counted?
The system is known as the d'Hondt method, d'Hondt being the surname of the Belgian mathematician who devised the technique. The best way to explain the method is to work through an example. Don't be put off it is really quite simple.
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd; your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse the Augean Stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings, and which by God's help and the strength He has given me, I now come to do.
I command ye, therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. You have sat here too long for the good you do. In the name of God, go!
Apposite, definitely but do we really need another Oliver Cromwell?
Friday, 15 May 2009
1) How many Members of the European Parliament (MEP) will represent the UK after these elections?
2) What constituency are you in?
3) How many MEP are elected to represent that constituency?
4) How many votes do you have?
5) What will you see listed on the ballot paper?
6) How do they determine who will represent you when all the votes have been counted?
I look forward to seeing your answers.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
· £5.73 per hour for workers aged 22 years and older
· A development rate of £4.77 per hour for workers aged 18-21 inclusive
· £3.53 per hour for all workers under the age of 18, who are no longer of compulsory school age
These will go up in October 2009 to the following values:
· £5.80 an hour for workers aged 22 and over
· £4.83 an hour for workers aged 18 to 21
· £3.57 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17
Now that is all well and good isn't it? This modest increase of 4p, 6p or 7p per hour depending on your age shouldn't hurt anybody. That is what I thought until I read the Low Pay Commission Report 2009 on the national minimum wage which, at point 8.97, states "We estimate that in total the Government will gain around £100 million from the 2009 minimum wage upratings". Table 8.4 on the next page lists the estimated exchequer yield and savings as follows:
Income tax £38,000,000
National Insurance £20,000,000
Working tax credit £22,000,000
Child tax credit £6,000,000
Income support £3,000,000
Housing support £3,000,000
Council tax benefits £9,000,000
Quite apart from the fact that these figures add up to the nice round figure of £100,000,000 I think it shows quite nicely why the government brought in the national minimum wage in the first place. After all, every little helps.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Friday, 1 May 2009
Let us assume that there is a computer software department that consists of
2 project leaders, one male and one female both earning £65,000;10 developers, 8 male and 2 female all earning £50,000 and2 ladies in charge of configuration management cum software building who earn £30,000. In this department the mean male wage is £51,666.66 whilst the female average is £45,000. The median wages are the same at £50,000. If a junior programmer was taken on at a wage of £25,000 the females' average would reduce to £41,666.66 and the median to £40,000.
With the median value in particular you can see that the lower value occurs because there are more women in the lower paid jobs. Is this what you thought of when you heard of the gender pay gap? Me neither.
Is it wrong that there are more women in the lower paid jobs than men or that there are more men than women in higher paid jobs? Do we need legislation to correct it? I don't know at the moment so I will go away and ponder it. Do let me know what you think.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Thursday, 9 April 2009
P.S. I wish I was as good as him at coming up with clever titles.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
We are then faced with the nonsensical statement that “Electric cars are to be introduce[sic] en masse across Britain”. Since when have electrical cars been green? The electricity has to be produced somewhere. If you think that fluffy ideas like windmills will solve the problem then you don’t understand the weather or economics. Windmills don’t turn when it is not windy. As an example of this, on January 1st 2009 there was not enough wind anywhere in the whole of the UK to turn a windmill. Where is the electrical power going to come from on a day like that? The article in the Telegraph goes on to say that “the Government [is] relaxing planning rules to allow the building of more wind farms to ensure Britain hits its target to generate 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020”. From the latest statistics I can find (Section 7.17 of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics) in 2007 we produce 4.98% of our energy requirements from renewable sources of which 27% is produced by the wind which means that the wind currently produces 1.34% of energy requirements. If wind is to be used to “ensure Britain hits its target” then it will have to produce 10.02% or a further 8.68%, of our energy requirements. The 1.34% is produced by 2,033 turbines. Even if all the new turbines have twice the capacity then we would need 6,127 new turbines. That is a rate of 1.56 turbines to be built every day between now and 1st January 2020. Just supposing that the erection of wind turbines could be achieved at that rate there is a world-wide shortage of wind turbines. It is just not going to happen is it?
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
My faith in Doctors was restored when I read the latest epistle from NHS Blog Doctor. I agree totally when he says that ‘there is no such thing as “health food”.’ I read the whole article, agreeing with every point he makes, including the one where he says “They all over-eat”. I cannot escape that fact that that statement is referring to me.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Now, where could I fit a discreet tattoo of a keyboard?
I am prompted to respond with: "It seems to me from this article that the prospective politician concerned has never read 'Let's move to... Reading'." The original article is an honest, even a complimentary, resume of Reading and it's attractions. Given the time lapse between the two articles one can only presume that this is just a cynical attempt by the two Labour party members to gain some publicity. Nothing new there, then.
What confuses me most is the message that the photograph imparts. It shows two people who do not look at all happy about the fact that they are in Reading holding a sign which says 'ONE TRIP to READING'. Every time I look at that I find myself finishing that sentence with the words 'and you'll never come back!'
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
It is not often one gets to read about Reading in a national newspaper unless one is reading the sports section. So it was with surprise that I came across this article in The Daily Telegraph about three fishermen at Southlake in Woodley. However, this story is not the hoary old fisherman’s tale of the one that got away but one of suspected terrorism, arrests and confiscation. The story in short is that three fishermen were arrested during the evening of Friday 20th March under the Air Navigation Order 2005; they were not charged but had their green light laser pens confiscated. I urge you to read the Telegraph article or the Reading Evening Post version for the full story.
My problem is that the story generates more questions than it answers. We start with an image of three people fishing in the gloom of a Friday evening when a local police officer accompanied by two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) arrived, told them about people shining lasers into the cockpits of aircraft, took the names of the three fishermen and then confiscated the laser pens. Where did these police come from? It cannot be that they were on a patrol because the whole raison d’être of PCSOs is that they replace the requirement for a policeman to be on the beat. One can only conclude that the three members of the police force were sent there but sent by whom?
Then there is the follow-up; the two accounts differ they do agree that a number of police officers arrived some time later and arrested the three fishermen. That these police officers were called be in by the first three is clear to me but why they were called is not. PCSOs do not have the power of arrest but a police office does. One can only presume that they considered the three fishermen so dangerous that a larger number of bodies were required to effect the arrests. One of the three fishermen was released almost immediately, the other two were held overnight but were then released without charge. If there was no charge then why were the laser pens confiscated? Do the police have powers to remove items at will despite there being no evidence that these items were being used in an illegal fashion?
Finally, we have the statement from a ‘spokesman for the Thames Valley Police’; “Three men were arrested in Woodley on March 7 on suspicion of endangering an aircraft and were later released without charge.” I have a friend who is a pilot and he tells me that planes landing at Heathrow are at about 3,500 feet (1,066 metres) above the ground as they turn over Reading prior to their final approach. I have a problem believing that a £20 laser pen can keep the beam of light coherent over a distance of two-thirds of a mile. However, let us assume that it can, we are then asked to believe that a hand-held beam of light can be trained accurately on a target moving at around 200 mph. Even if we accept this we then have to consider how this beam of light is to enter the cockpit of the aircraft. You will recall that the cockpit is normally sited on the top of the fuselage with the windows sited in such a way that the ground immediately below an aircraft cannot be seen. Taking all this into consideration I do not see how these gentlemen, from their position at the side of a lake surrounded by trees could possibly shine a beam of laser light into the cockpit of an aeroplane.
All in all, this all seems a bit fishy (pun intended) to me. It is yet another example of how the police are drifting away from the force they were set up to be and losing public support as a consequence. This lack of support is best demonstrated by a cynical friend of mine who commented ‘I bet it was a police helicopter that flew low and slow overhead so they shone their lasers at it. I would have done the same!’
Lady Day, coming as it does at the beginning of the farming year, was the traditional day for farm workers to take up new employment. Thomas Hardy reflects this in Tess of the D’Urbevilles. This significance remains to this day. If you had heard the business section of the Today programme at 6.16 am this morning then you would have heard a discussion regarding the issue some businesses have with the fact that three months rent becomes due today. It goes further than that. When we changed the calendar from Gregorian calendar to Julian in 1752, it was necessary to lose 11 days. However, it was decided that the tax year would run to 365 days, thus the end date of March 25th, Lady Day was moved eleven days later to April 5th where it remains to this day.
Finally, Lady Day used to be the first day of the year; dates would be recorded, for example, as 24th March 1657 with the following day being 25th March 1658. I am indebted to Wikipedia for furnishing the reason for this; ‘The logic of using Lady Day as the start of the year is that it reckons years A.D. from the moment of the Annunciation, which is considered to take place at the moment of the conception of Jesus at the Annunciation rather than at the moment of his birth at Christmas.’ This practice stopped and January 1st was taken as the first day of the New Year, in the manner of the Romans, when the Julian calendar was adopted in 1752.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
A trillion* is 1 followed by twelve zeroes it looks like this 1,000,000,000,000. It could be referred to as 1 million million. It is an enormous number. If you shared it fairly amongst every one of the 17.1 million families in the UK they would each have over £58,000. Assuming that each family lives in an average priced home, which they don’t, and each family has a 100% mortgage, which they don’t, then this money would pay-off close to 40% of the debt.
Actually, the average household debt in the UK is approximately £59,730 (including mortgages), thus this much money would virtually clear that debt at a stroke.
* This is the American version. My feelings on the demise of the superior British system will be the subject of another blog.
Christopher Beazley is the Conservative MEP for the East of England and he has just resigned the whip apparently because Mr. Cameron has announced that the Conservatives will leave the European People’s Party grouping in the European Parliament. The difference here is due to the method of election that we are subjected to for European elections. If you don’t know then it is all explained at here at http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/, where it pithily states that the voting system is ‘Proportional representation – closed list.’ Later, AboutMyVote, an Electoral Comission website, explains that to vote one ‘put[s] an X (a cross) next to the party … that you wish to vote for.’ Under the title ‘Who is Elected?’ it states that ‘The first seat that a party wins goes to the first person on its list, the second seat to the second person, and so on.’ So, you vote for a party, not an individual. With a closed list system you do not know, when you are voting, who the person is who will get a seat as a consequence of your vote.
Mr. Beazley has resigned the party whip. This means that he is no longer in the party that the people voted for. Surely, logic dictates that this man should be ejected from the European Parliament and a by-election should be held?
Monday, 23 March 2009
The other article was in this morning’s Daily Telegraph. It refers to a part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act that was passed in May 2008 and which comes into force sometime this year (if anyone could enlighten me on when, I would be interested in knowing). The part in question makes it an offence to incite hatred base on sexual orientation. I am not going to debate the pros and cons of this legislation (Rod Liddle does it better than I could here) but I do think that it is one of those abysmal pieces of legislation that tell us how to think.
The comment that the receptionist made was to follow up the use of the phrase ‘half-caste’ with the apology of ‘Oh, we are not supposed to use that phrase now are we? I don’t know what we are supposed to say instead.’ You will notice that she twice referred to ‘what we are supposed to say’. I suspect that this sort of comment is not new to you and I admit to having used it myself but it doesn’t say a lot about freedom of speech does it?
One of the reasons given for the increase in hung juries was; ‘I do think that we live in an era when people are much more nervous about being judgmental.’ Doesn’t that tie in with a society that is told how to think? Isn’t this an example of how, when faced with a situation that requires a decision, that we, as a population, are finding it increasingly difficult to come up with an answer? Are we not being taken down a road that increasingly despises individual differences?
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
No boys are allowed to queue in this corridor.
One of the boys has added a comma and an underline with the result that is now states:
No, boys are allowed to queue in this corridor.
Isn’t that just the perfect example of why punctuation is important?
What I am confused about is why in all the reports that I have read it says something to the effect that they are doing this in order to discover how quickly the sea-ice is melting and how long it might take for the ocean to become ice-free in summers. Since nobody has done this before how can they discover how quickly the sea-ice is melting? Surely all they can do is determine a baseline for future comparison. However, I am then confused because I know that the ice at the North Pole is floating and it moves. So when somebody in a few years time measures the thickness of the ice at 81°55’N, 129°52’W will they be able to compare their measurement of the thickness of the ice at that point with the one taken on this expedition and be able to come up with a meaningful conclusion?