Friday, May 06, 2005

Election Results 2005

Me old mate Mark Leech indeed WON WITHINGTON!! Just as Tony and Gordon
predicted in their email! A 14% swing, no less.

So mine wasn't an insignificant prediction. Bradley held here for 8 years,
and his office opposite my road is just across from the Conservative club.
There is no Lib Dem equivalent.

I wanted to bet £20 he'd win it, but I couldn't, because it wasn't even in
the list of marginals!

Instead, I bet on a majority of 1-60 seats, at 8-1. 61-80 was 5-1 I think.
The majority is 66! Damnit. I'm pretty good though, you must admit..

As for voting Conservative in High Lane..
"A slim Conservative majority of 929 was swamped by a 12.9% swing to the
Liberal Democrats on May 1 1997, and Andrew Stunell’s winning margin of
11,814 was his party’s third largest."

There was just a 1% swing LibDem to Conservative this year. The electorate
have spoken! And they said, "Shove your xenophobic corporatism up your

Not only have you voted for the Conservatives, you've voted for Michael
Howard, who was responsible for the biggest piece of gay-bashing legislation
of recent times! He still believes that people can be persuaded to be gay!

Which - frankly I agree with, but I differ on whether that's good or not!

I think voting Tory is criminal. And criminals don't get a vote. So you
can't vote next time, K?

This was a party political broadcast on behalf of Pharkie

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Geography quiz

28/44 = 64%

Avg error: 233 miles

Time: 415 secs

It's a bit unfair with how specific you need to be with the tiny 'dot'
states. And I didn't realise you could expand the window!

Good quiz tho! I forgot Liechtenstein existed, it's so tiny on me map. And
Monaco! Serves them right for not being in the EU.

Easy? Andorra, or 'shrub-covered land' - I must admit I was barely aware of
its existence..?

I thought Luxembourg was a bit small and insignificant, but now I know that
Europe's real small states are Andorra, Monaco, Vatican City, Liechtenstein
and San Marino! There's certainly room to question the sovereignty of these

I didn't know Monte Carlo was in Monaco =:-o

Must try harder =:)

OK I'm back after a few more goes.

I noticed that quiz is ‘level 3’, which is pretty hard - but do you know it goes up to LEVEL NINE???

OMG - even I’m not that masochistic.

OK OK I'm back.

I got 85% on level 8..  (I was lying about the masochistic bit)

Prejudice test 
"Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for Young relative to Old"

"Your data suggest little or no automatic preference for GAY PEOPLE relative

Is it me or does this test have so many flaws I wouldn't even know where to
begin?! It's about as scientific as a polo mint. But fun all the same..

I must admit, I found it a mental struggle to associate 'good' with 'old' or 'evil' with 'young', and much easier for the opposite. But 'old' doesn't just relate to people. Old cars, old sofas and old bibles (heh) are uniformly less 'good' than 'young' ones.

I found it easier to say Gay = Good. This was compromised by involving LESBIANS tho.. Many (most?) of the symbols were female/female, and that isn't 'gay' to me. I'd have a much stronger instinct towards e.g. two greek male symbols as Good. One of the people in the 'gay wedding' looked like a transvestite??

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

LGB electioneering

"Why should the LGB community vote for you?”


Doctor Phill Edwards, BNP National Press Officer was very quick of the mark,
with this response:

“Prior to 1967 homosexuality was a crime and led to prison. It is unnatural
and an undesirable lifestyle which can only be remotely tolerated if the
current law is obeyed i.e. consenting adults IN PRIVATE. The constant
promotion of this queer lifestyle on TV, soaps, radio, news papers etc as
something which it is not - equivalent to heterosexism (sic) - drains my
tolerance and I find the entire topic revolting, disgusting and scary.
Queers should remain celebate and don't talk about it. You should all be
ashamed of yourselves."
Dr Phill Edwards. BNP National Press Officer.

Looks like he didn't read the question?? If it were me, I'd have said E.g.
"Do what you like in private, but vote for us because we're anti-Europe".
But no!

It's one thing to be a bigotted, anachronistic, naïve fool - but another to
be incompetant at your main job!

I'm sure you've spotted lots wrong with his comment already, particularly
the poor English, but I thought it worth pointing out that homosexuality was
not illegal prior to 1967. The first real legislation was Henry VIII's
'Buggery Act' that buggered buggery from 1533.

So even being generous - it was illegal in the larger part of the world, for
about 450 years out of the perhaps 2 million year history of humanity.
Something of a temporary blip?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Are you worth it?

Ever thought it impossible to put a value on life? Apparently not..?!

“One way to value a life is to calculate a person’s HUMAN CAPITAL by working out how much he or she would earn were they to survive to a ripe old age. This could result in very different sums being paid to victims of the same accident. After an air crash, probably more MONEY would go to the family of a first-class passenger than to that of someone flying economy. This may not seem fair. Nor would using this method to decide what to spend on safety measures, as it would mean much higher expenditure on avoiding the death of, say, an investment banker than on saving the life of a teacher or coal miner. It would also imply spending more on safety measures for young people and being positively reckless with the lives of retired people.

Another approach is to analyse the risks that people are voluntarily willing to take, and how much they require to be paid for taking them. Taking into account differences in WAGES for high death-risk and low death-risk jobs, and allowing for differences in education, experience, and so on, it is possible to calculate roughly what value people put on their own lives. In industrialised countries, most studies using this method come up with a value of $5m–10m. "

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A brief history of Casanova

"Casanova toured the cities of Europe and seemed to be able to turn his hand
to anything. He introduced the National Lottery to France, he knew Mozart
and Voltaire and persuaded the Empress of Russia to introduce a new
calendar. He even wrote one of the world's first science fiction novels.

The Latin lover was also a soldier in the Venetian army, a preacher, an
alchemist, a gambler, a violinist, and a spy. He translated Homer's Iliad
into Italian, too."

Impressive! He knew Voltaire?? I want to have knew Voltaire!

"It is precisely by virtue of my coarse tastes that I am happier than other
men, since I am convinced that my tastes make me capable of more pleasure,"
he (Casanova) wrote.

"Like an 18th century Jeffrey Archer, but funny. He wasn't born an
aristocrat, he lied his way into jobs and positions of power with charm and
cheek. He's just irresistible."
- Davies, on the real Casanova

"One can promise actions, but not feelings, for the latter are involuntary.
He who promises to love forever or hate forever or be forever faithful to
someone is promising something that is not in his power."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, 'On the History of Moral Feelings'

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

This cryptic latin means "After that, therefore because of that" - that if one thing follows another, it is caused by the other - which often isn't the case. So correlation is not the same as causation. But you see "post hoc ergo propter hoc" used to mislead and persuade all the time. A simple example is "Children with bigger feet do better at spelling tests". So bigger feet causes increased intelligence? Probably not. In this example, as is often the case, it is a third factor, that of the increased age of the child, which actually causes both.

Let me introduce a new, occasional series to this blog: "Questions you never thought to ask".

Question #1: What is the terminal velocity of a cat?

Terminal velocity is the maximum speed at which an object will fall, given that wind resistance increases the faster it goes, until it cancels out any acceleration and the object's speed stays constant. Heavier objects have faster terminal velocities than lighter ones. The shape of the object will affect its actual speed, since that changes the air resistance.

Experts in the New York Times were wondering why the cats that arrived at a Vet's Surgery were more likely to survive, the higher their fall:

"Amazingly, the cats that fell longer distances fared better than the others. Of the 22 cats that fell over 7 stories, 21 survived; of the 13 cats that fell over 9 stories, all survived. Sabrina, who fell 32 stories onto concrete, suffered only a minor lung puncture and a chipped tooth"

They came up with a theory to explain this unexpected result:

"Terminal velocity for a cat is 60 miles per hour; for an adult human: 120 mph. Until a cat reaches terminal velocity, the two speculated, the cat reacts to acceleration by reflexively extending its legs, making it more prone to injury. But after terminal velocity is reached, they said, the cat might relax and stretch its legs out like a flying squirrel, increasing air resistance and helping to distribute the impact more evenly."

(Extra points for comparing a descending cat to a flying squirrel)

Seems to make sense?? Figured it out yet? The problem here is that.. if a cat has a really high fall, it isn't going to end up at the vet's at all. What use is a vet to a very dead cat? Conversely, if it's a short fall, the cat will just give itself a lick and carry on as if it meant to fall - otherwise unharmed and again not needing a vet. So the conclusion that they were attempting to justify, that higher falling cats tend to survive more, is the fallacy of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. There was no causal relationship between the height of the fall and the survival of the cat.

'Post hoc ergo propter hoc' is the title of the second episode in Series 1 of TV's brilliant West Wing. That's where I first heard it, and I fetched the script, just for you:

Bartlet: "CJ, on your tombstone, it's going to read 'Post hoc, ergo propter hoc'!"
CJ: "Okay, but none of my visitors are going to be able to understand my tombstone!"
Bartlet: "Twenty-seven lawyers in the room, anybody know 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc'?"
"It means," the President lectures, "(that) one thing follows the other therefore it was caused by the other. But it's not always true. In fact, it's hardly ever true."