Friday, May 10, 2013
I went to college with Michael Gove. He appeared to be a bit of a pompous snob even then. But at least I thought he was literate.
Evidently he is not.
He attacked something written in the Guardian Education pages by the children's author "Mr Rosen criticised the test on the basis that there was no such thing as correct grammar"
Yet Mr Rosen said no such thing.
Mr Gove probably suffers from prejudiced narrow-mindedness rather than intrinsic illiteracy, but the effect is the same.
Saturday, March 09, 2013
If a share price decreases by 10% in one year then increases by 10% in the next year then the net effect is a decrease – the investor has lost out.
If a share price increases by 10% in one year then decreases by 10% in the next year then the net effect is a decrease – the investor has lost out.
This happens year after year after year.
If the price changes are more than 10% each year then the investor loses even more.
Friday, March 08, 2013
I thought I had learned my lesson.
No more investing in individual shares, even supposedly safe ones.
Surely the all share index is the safest place to invest.
Columnists talk about record highs for the all share index. They are lying.
Since 1999 the FTSE has gone from 6024 to 6224 – without accounting for inflation.
Even in the most basic bank account at 1% per year, the index should be at over 8000 now.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
The past: Over many thousands of years all of Europe has shared the same major events. From stone age settlements to Roman invasions to Angles and Saxons and Normans, through renaissance and enlightenment and revolutions, the same groups have spread through all Europe. For better or worse, most of us are even subject to the same royal group, the interlinked descendants of a small number of dark age warrior chiefs are spread across the thrones of Europe.
The current: Britain, like the rest of Europe, is defined by its infrastructure. The very qualities that so appeal to American tourists, our patchwork farms and narrow winding streets around ancient buildings, are the qualities that constrain our development. For all the culture of the Native American they have not left a corresponding network of medieval cities to be built upon and around. The decisions that we must take with regard to balancing of conservation and development are European scale decisions.
The future: New York, with its regular heavy snowfall and freezing winters, is close to the same latitude as balmy Lisbon. In the absence of the warming Gulf Stream we would have a similar climate to Alaska. The melting of the Greenland ice cap may have a drastic effect on the associated ocean currents. While the rest of the world “enjoys” global warming, like the elite enjoy their tropical holidays, Europe may enter a new ice age. Britain is in the same boat as France and Scandinavia. Except that we don’t have a big enough boat.
So why the massive surge to nationalism, to “UK Independence”, to cutting ties with “Europe”? It is just the same players, the murdochs and the bankers, wanting less control over what they do so they can have more control over what we do.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
The property benifits from having a large fitted kitchen/diner, seperate reception, integral garage which includes a seperate w/c ... This house is a must see so call now to aviod disappointment.
Let me know if you need to employ a proofreader.
Let me know if you are interested in renting it.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
After four games of the season, the Deccan Chargers were top of the league. Their main strike bowler was a skiddy slinger called Fidel Edwards who was finally getting the luck that seemed to have deserted him in the West Indies. However the Chargers lost both games after he was called back for the test series in England, and I gave them little chance today against the mighty Mumbai. However the Deccan backup bowlers held their nerve, the Deccan catchers held their catches and young Rohit Sharma played the game of his life to set up victory.
Meanwhile in England, Fidel Edwards kept making chances, his mates kept dropping them.
Meanwhile in the real world, and also in TV job-seeking world, it is interesting to see who stays loyal to their work friends when they no longer work with their friends.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
For the main course, the Kolkata Knight Riders batted first against Delhi, and actually put up a fairly decent target. But defending that score was an absolute joke. Kolkata literally threw it away, they bowled ok but the fielding was abysmal, they dropped chance after chance after chance. The team couldn't catch a cold. Or worse.
O, I got a new keyboard too.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Anyway, watched s0me c0medy today. N0t a scripted drama but the run chase 0f the Deccan Chargers. While the televisi0n pundits saw them at the t0p 0f the league and theref0re b0ringly predicted that they w0uld g0 0n t0 win it, I have l0ng been saying that their g00d initial results were 0ver-reliant 0n just a c0uple 0f stars, they didn't have the strength in depth needed even in a 20 0ver game. I have been pr0ved right, s0 far, the pundits were wr0ng. Yet they get paid f0r their insight. I wish I did. I need t0 get a new keyb0ard - until I d0, n0 m0re p0sts.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
In the second game, a surprise for two reasons. Firstly a comparatively one-sided game, nearly two overs to spare in the run chase. Secondly the result itself, mighty Mumbai mauled by the resurgent Challengers who seem a different (better) side now that KP left them.
Meanwhile, leaving aside the massive subject of swine flu, the more relevant issue at least in terms of my current routine is the rather more basic question: does bacon kill you? I saw a good answer to that question today, written by Professor David Colquhoun. Worth reading. Unless you're a quack or a homeopath.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Game two, even without Freddie, despite a poor start, Chennai turned the game from the moment Raina pulled off a stunning catch. Yet another last over classic.
What else happened today? The sun was shining, went into town for some shopping. Bit scary, saw first-hand how the deadly virus is spreading...
yes, the religious nutters were on the streets handing out leaflets again.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Yes it can. Kolkata won't just crumble to a heavy defeat against the mighty Mumbai. Instead, once again the team wrings every ounce of hope out of its supporters, taking it to the final over yet again.
Game two also went down to the last ball, another excellent match, Yuvraj scored a fifty and took a hat-trick but Punjab just missed out. A great game, and a great result for old Kumble.
Aside - in defence of the "strategic time out". Of course giving it that name is as disingenuous as calling civilian death "collateral damage", but the cricket community is a conservative one, and the old brigade seems to hate this enforced mid-innings advertising break (for that is what it is) whatever it is called. But really it's just the test match mid session drinks break with a different name, no big deal at all. In fact the issue is that it is not used properly. Instead we still get adverts between overs - with the same sponsor's message repeated every single bloody time, that is the most counterproductive advertising imaginable.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
In the second game, another good result. Raina won the match on his own.
By the way, I still get people thinking this is all only about the IPL. At one level it is, but regular readers will know me better than that.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
In game two, another nailbiter. RB from Essex failed again but at least scored more runs than SRT from Mumbai, Slinga Malinga justified my prediction that he would be the bowler of the tournament, but Punjab still crept to victory off the very last ball.
An aside, an insight. The IPL gets stick for being crass commercialised corrupted cricket. And it's true that the short boundaries, the incessant sponsorship and the over-excitable commentators do their best to ruin the game. But as a format 20:20 has great attributes. Every ball really matters, and the most successful bowlers have been the canny spinners and the superfast expresses - these are the ones who the doom-mongers said were only good for test matches and unsuitable for the one day game. They were partially right, "traditional" fifty-over one-day games encouraged medium pace trundlers and bits-and-pieces trundlers - but 20:20 seems to encourage specialism and special talent, and long may it continue.
Monday, April 27, 2009
So time to make some brave predictions.
First game, the Chargers won again, so the commentators say that with their 100% record, they are now favourites for the league title. Just like Alan Hansen always predicts that the team leading the Premiership will win at the end, that the bottom three teams will be relegated. Anyway, they are cowards and they are wrong. The Chargers are overly reliant on just three batsmen (GiGi and Rohit Sharma) and their only real strike bowler is Fidel Edwards. They won't all fire in every match. So despite their 100% record so far, I predict fail.
And in game two, the Indians stuffed the Knight Riders. At least Ganguly was top scorer. But realistically, sadly, it's not looking good for the Bengali Boys either.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
For the Chargers won "comfortably" - only three batsmen made decent scores but countless edges went just wide of fielders and they only had three decent bowlers. Yet once again in my opinion Mumbai had the best batsmen and once again Malinga was unplayable. But the breaks went the way of the Deccans, not just from Ojha. So well played to the winners, but if luck evens out in the end, the Indians will still go through.
In the second game the prince of Kolkata might have led the Knight Riders to a thorough thrashing of the Chennai Super Kings, but the match was rained off.
Friday, April 24, 2009
It's true that the only Bengali playing was for the Punjab side, but there is something about the Bangalore team that makes them a favourite second team. That something is partially the portly figure of Jesse Ryder, proving that an athletic build is no requirement for an athletic performance. But the main reason is undimmed respect for the underappreciated enthusiasm, passion and technical excellence of Dravid and Kumble. Their combined age is more than 70, but as with Ganguly for Kolkata, they embody the spirit of the side far more than the imported captain. They both scored more runs than KP too.
Still, connections, a game between two sides from India being played in South Africa, and the man of the match was a chap with the initials RB from Ilford, Essex.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
According to all match reports, the Deccan Chargers comfortably beat the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Well they did win, but in my contrary view it was not so comfortable. I can't believe that Fidel Edwards will continue to outbowl Dale Steyn, that Ohja will continue to outbowl Kumble, that Jesse Ryder and KP will repeatedly fail.
My prediction, the early chargers will soon be overtaken by now latent challengers.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"the weather was the most important factor" in the decision to move the IPL to South Africa instead of to England.
According to Vijay Mallya, the owner of the Royal Challengers team (and of Kingfisher Beer):
"I guess weather conditions clinched the issue for South Africa. In England, there were chances that matches would have been rained off. Both teams sharing the point affects the competitiveness of the event."
Today the game in Durban was rained off. In England it was bright and sunny all day.
But it isn't. Stars of the first couple of days are the old dudes: batting legends like Dravid and Tendulkar; bowling legends like Warne, Kumble, Vettori, Bhaji, Murali.
It's not just because these guys are my cricketing idols. It is because they have proved that technique matters, experience matters, style matters.
It is test cricket at its finest. With cheerleaders :)
Saturday, April 18, 2009
First game was the clash of the titans - the mighty Mumbai Indians, the most expensive team in the league, up against the Chennai Super Kings, the team who might be named after a brand of cigarette but who are captained by India's captain and feature Freddie Flintoff. It was a high quality match, good batting, good bowling, good fielding, and Mumbai won by 19 runs. My gripe is with the "verdict". They gave "man of the match" accolades and money to Tendulkar. The commentator said the decision was a formality. That was the easy option - he scored 59 runs in 49 balls at a strike rate of 120. And he is the greatest batsman of our generation. But today he was overshadowed by a relatively unknown colleague called Abhishek Nayar who scored 35 runs in just 14 balls at a strike rate of 250.
Yet I don't think any batsman really made the winning difference. Mumbai's bowlers deserved the credit. Harbhajan Singh was the one who kept things tight in the middle of the innings, he bowled slow and clever and conceded only 5 runs per over. But the guy who won the match was a young Sri Lankan called Lasith Malinga. He bowled fast, accurate, swinging, yorkers at the most critical stages of the innings, took 3 wickets for 15 and he looked almost unplayable.
But the easy option is just to give the award to the guy who scores the most runs, particularly when that guy is Sachin Tendulkar.
Meanwhile in game 2, the defending champions Rajasthan Royals were bowled out for just 58 runs, the lowest ever IPL total, chasing a Bangalore score of 133 in which Rahul Dravid scored 68 runs in just 48 runs. Deja Vu.
Friday, April 17, 2009
And I thought about the forest. After any clearing, there is a battle for light and a battle for growth between the two types of plant. Who wins?
Well it is obvious that the green climbers grow faster than the trees. They don't need to waste energy putting down deep roots and providing solidity. They may be creepy and parasitic, but they are the ones who get ahead.
But. When we look back at a jungle, or when we look for core essence of the jungle, then we usually think of the trees.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Talking of Match of the Day, over the last few seasons they have been raving about how consistently superb Brad Friedel has been for Blackburn.
Both James and Friedel were recently released by Liverpool FC for not being good enough. The solution to the problems was to be Jerzy Dudek, the astounding young Polish keeper.
Despite a fine record in saving penalties , Dudek was considered small for a goalkeeper with not enough of a powerful presence. The giant Sander Westerveld was also the regular number one, but he too was let go.
Perhaps Liverpool should look to the future. Chris Kirkland? Scott Carson?
Although they are still playing, and playing astoundingly well, none of them currently plays for the club.
Why do they keep letting their stoppers go? What future has Reina?
Friday, April 03, 2009
But there's a serious point to be made here. It has just been announced that the Maxim monthly magazine will cease publishing a UK edition. I have friends who were on the staff there - they still write good stuff as freelance journalists. But even in conversation with these employees, even at the height of their popularity, I confessed that I never liked Maxim, neither its siblings and offspring such as FHM, Loaded and Nuts.
It would be easy to pretend now that I didn't like them because they were actually soft pornography pretending to be general interest magazines. But I won't pretend. I didn't like them because they were actually soft pornography pretending to be general interest magazines. Exactly same words just different emphasis.
This is dodgy ground. But I'm a right-on PC dude really. Broadly speaking, soft porn portrays a stereotypical image of women. You know the typical attributes, typical poses. But again broadly speaking, hard porn celebrates diversity - women of all different shapes and sizes and behaviours. Not just women, unfortunately. But if we are to celebrate diversity, there will always be some elements of that diversity that are unpleasant.
Disclaimer: I do not purchase pornography of any kind, hard or soft.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
1. Started out in poverty in the East End of London - couldn't afford shoes
2. Worked at the Ford plant - protested against the violence in 'Nam
3. Eventually found own voice - inspired by Faith
4. Manipulated by the puppetmasters - didn't like it
5. Recently spent a lot of time with people who need therapy
Obviously, that's Sandie Shaw.
I remember that exactly one year ago today, I discovered God. Though I'm not sure of the capitalisation there, I prefer this style. And just a few days ago, I discovered him again, this time he was lurking around on Twitter. Then somebody told me that my discovery was not "the real God", but in no time at all I found "The Real God" lurking around there too.
Talking of capitalisation, the G20 meetings and G20 riots are now going on just a few miles away, but it's all quiet and peaceful at home at the moment - loads of ideas swimming round my head, will develop a few here later.
And the rules will return.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
And so, every 10,000 miles, I religiously got the car serviced at the same main dealer that had sold me the car. The servicing was expensive compared to my local garage, but I wanted the best option for my first new car. No initial concerns. However, driving the car out of the garage after the 30,000 mile service, after barely 28 months of ownership, there was clearly a major problem - running was uneven with a distinct lack of power. I drove back. And there, after a while waiting to be seen, a mechanic changed one of the spark plugs. In the car park!
The car was now drivable, though certainly not ideal, and I brought it back for the next service early, as soon as it hit 39,000 miles. The same dealer serviced it, detected no problem. I got the next service done at the same place, again trusting the selling dealer. Yet pretty soon after that, the engine lost all power again. The dealership had the cheek to charge me a fortune to "diagnose" the problem, and they promptly informed me that one of the cylinders was showing almost zero compression. Only solution, an entirely new engine.
Of course I wasn't happy. But despite all sorts of calls and incidents raised, both to the dealer and the manufacturer, I received not a penny in compensation. Refusing to continue to support that dealer, I eventually bought and fitted a new engine from a local garage. Ironically, I had plenty of contacts in the marketing department of the manufacturer - but all I got were offers of help and zero actual help. The line from the dealer was that I should contact the manufacturer. The line from the manufacturer was that the new car only had a one year warranty, so tough. Technically true. But if that was good customer service, if that was encouraging loyalty and positive recommendation, then …
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
For his soup, he did actually catch a wild snapper one-handed, but eventually decided that real turtle meat was too stringy. So instead he just made soup from stock. In order to make his stock, after extracting the juice from his mock turtle, he froze it, filtered it, froze it again (at -80 degrees) , whizzed it around in a centrifuge, froze it yet again, set it in specially-made watch-fob-shaped moulds, then individually covered each one in gold leaf.
That was the simple soup starter. His main course seemed to be a complete Victorian garden, with everything from the "soil" to the borders to the plants to the "rocks" to the decorative insects having been carefully placed there as part of the whole culinary experience.
To drink - a single beverage that would have the flavours of toffee, hot buttered toast, custard, cherry tart and turkey. But that description was from a book of fiction, a fantasy story created by Lewis Carroll as an exercise in lunacy. It was not a recipe, and obviously it was not meant to be taken seriously ... except by Heston. He really created it. A single drink, together with a custom drinking vessel, that sequentially offered each of the flavours described in the book. His guests were gobsmacked.
And for desert, a giant vibrating jelly made of absinthe, mindblowing.
Heston Blumenthal already runs what is arguably the best restaurant in the world. He takes your senses to the limit, and then that little bit further. He is polite and courteous in his demeanor, yet outrageous and over the top in his creation. He takes the fictional cliché and makes it real. So the punchline: he is the Jim Steinman of food.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
But another thing surprised me too, and this is not something for the organisers to be happy about. The organisation was in some aspects a complete fiasco. So many attendees wanted to see the more popular talks that there were lines stretching around the block; disgracefully, large numbers were turned away at the door of each one. This was especially the case for the keynote addresses but it was even the case for some of the specialist talks. Meanwhile a few of the speakers spoke to half-empty rooms. It was inefficient and pathetic.
This was a technology for marketing conference. The technology was largely about using the internet, eCommerce, databases and CRM to manage demand and supply. I would guess that most visitors registered online anyway. All they had to do was to allow us to register in advance for particular sessions. This would also have allowed them to monitor demand and potentially adjust seating plans as necessary. And this would make it clear to late registering people which sessions they could attend.
It was actually branded as technology for marketing and advertising. If they were advertising particular names as reasons to visit the event, then they had a corresponding obligation to allow us to see those names, or at least to make us aware that we would not see them.
It is not acceptable to justify the mess by saying the sessions were being recorded for later online streaming. People do not attend conferences to queue for their favourite sessions, to be turned away at the door, then told that the event can be viewed on the internet later.
One cannot blame the organisers too much on the first occasion, it is not easy to predict how an event will pan out. But what made the scenario particularly appalling was that exactly the same situation occurred last year.
About using technology for marketing, have they learned nothing?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Well I said I'd start on the 25 random things. So I did.
I wrote them, but they aren't published yet. None of them are secret, but there is a nagging doubt whether this blog is the appropriate place for them. Obviously there is nothing embarrassing or illegal there, but they look inward whereas most of this blog looks outward.
And I still wonder how the revelation of further personal details would change the opinions of me of those around me. So I don't.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Also, I am not going to explicitly "tag" selected people suggesting that they must pass it on - whoever you are, I do want to learn more about you, but because I'm interested, not because you need to spread the message to avoid an attack of the bad-luck-virus, or an eternity in hell.
Anyway twenty-five points is far too many for one note. I have regularly expressed high fidelity to a simple "top five", and that is more than enough for my suggested user-friendly word limits.
And finally, I cannot simply write "random" things, that would violate my principles. My posts should suggest order and synchronicity in a chaotic universe, so each one must be fairly well themed, the antithesis of random.
For more on the background of this, see Neil Perkin, John Naughton, Chris Wilson. For my first five, see tomorrow.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
1. Out of nowhere, produced a man of the match performance to bowl the complete England cricket side out for 51 measly runs in humiliating innings defeat.
2. Reported that the editor of my hometown newspaper was arrested for "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims after they reprinted an article from The Independent.
Obviously a different Jerome Taylor. Anyway, this was the supposedly dangerous article, feared by cowards and quislings all over the planet. And this was Johann Hari's response, every word worth reading, just one quote from it:
The solution to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people will say terrible things – is always and irreducibly more free speech.
If only the solution to England's batting order was so simple.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
1. PJ O'Rourke. His book was known to cause extreme offence to all devotees of the lord David Icke. He won't be allowed any nearer than Lizard Point.
2. Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Controversial astronaut. It is rumoured that he has evidence that the earth is round. This has caused extreme offence to the National Flat Earth Society, and he will be stopped at all ports.
3. John Barrowman. Apparently he is gay. There must be some religious people who find this deeply offensive.
4. Daniel Dennett. He writes books that are a bit complicated. This is deliberate provocation of the large and respected national society of idiots.
5. Raymond Blanc. In an act of deliberate provocation to followers of the holy Brian, he publicly humiliated (and ate) a snail. Sick. And sacrilege.
These people are dangerous. Foreign Secretary David Willi-banned said: "We have profound commitment to freedom of speech, but we are also bloody scared."
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Similarly I try to avoid obvious and predictable clichés - that is only worth doing if you can be Steinmanesque about it: the future just ain't what it used to be but we'll never be as young as we are right now and if you don't go over the top then you'll never see the other side.
And in various ways at various times I've often suggested that you are completely free to reuse and distrubute anything published here (perhaps you are encouraged to) provided that you acknowledge me in doing so. However I've not yet expressed this opinion in traditional legal language, I'm not sure that I need to anyway, but here for the record are two portions of the Creative Commons Notice that seem to apply here.
1. Licensees (you) may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they give the author or licensor (me) the credits in the manner specified by these.
2. Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
Go ahead. Make my day.
Friday, February 06, 2009
My last post was a very simple one. But it was topical, posted just a few minutes after the incident to which it referred, and it was short, just 34 of my words around the quote.
One of those 34 words was goallessness. Anyone who watched the game, anyone who has watched any football, will know exactly what that word means. But it's not in the dictionary.
Yet I don't care. As Stephen Fry asked of those pedants who obsess about grammatical correctness: Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it?
Though in my case, it was simply the clearest most concise way of expressing the thought. Without using those bloody txt contractions.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
After nearly two hours of goallessness:
117 mins: Everton roll forward anew .... and ITV cut to commercials!? Eh? I said EH? Get it sorted please. [...]
118 mins: GOAL! Everton 1-0 Liverpool (Gosling 119')
118 mins: Yes, while ITV were inexplicably, unforgivably on a commercial break, Van Der Meyde scuttled down the right and floated in a cross that Gosling was allowed to take down. He scooped a dainty shot towards the top corner from eight yards and Reina can't get to it! Cue delirium at Goodison! And sackings at ITV, surely.
119 mins: Liverpool are lamping it desperately forward, to no avail. "What in the name of dear God were ITV playing at?" roars Simon Arnold and approximately 233,567 others.120 mins: Peep! Peep! Peeeeep! It's full-time, Everton are victorious thanks to a Gosling goal that all in TV-reliant Britain missed.
Commercials? Inexplicably. Approximately. Three small typos corrected but you get the picture. Clearly not everyone did.
To maintain effective marketing, or to run effective projects, both require constant cycles of prediction and measurement.
For example, first you measure the current one, use that to plan and predict the next one. Measure that one. And so on.
Having been through plenty of campaigns and plenty of projects, I know there are some things that I can predict well. Perhaps an odd predilection for stats helps. Of course we all get some estimates wrong, but the more we do the better we estimate. And I've done loads.
But there are some things that I cannot predict. I cannot predict share prices without insider knowledge. So I agree with what Stephen Dubner wrote on Freakonomics a while back:
Here are a couple of stock-market headlines I’d love to read one day:
“Stocks Surge, Reasons Unknown; May Be Nothing More Than the Random Fluctuation of a Complex System”
“Stocks Dive: Three First-Movers Sold Hard and Then Everyone Else Inexplicably Followed”
Of course, in the second case, if the first-movers sold hard, if you believe that others will also sell hard, then you should sensibly follow.
So my own investment strategy, still holding all my boom-bought shares as they go bust one by one, now it looks very foolish indeed.
Friday, January 30, 2009
From Ann on January 23rd: I think this year is Twitter’s year. I think their tipping point has been reached and passed.
From Stephen Fry just yesterday: Welcome to my twitterworld
But I'm still not sure about it. Two possible reactions:
From the stereotypical new woman, enthusiastic about this new way to communicate:
I am a twitter. Sexy, fun, dietin' manhunter.
Or from the stereotypical dinosaur, a guy who doesn't believe in all this new technology:
I am a twit. Terse, XY, fundie, tin man, hunter.
The same letters in the same order, just slightly different spacing.
Monday, January 26, 2009
1. Give £50 like the first person. This further reinforces the possibly unfair suggestion that £50 is the expected going rate.
2. Give more than £50. Appeases your own conscience; but if the signals theory is correct, this may be even more likely to dissuade later small contributions.
3. Give a sum that is the usual typical contribution, say £10. This could now bring in the others who were prepared to commit that smaller figure but who didn't want to publicly set the precedent.
4. Give an intermediate sum, say £25. This might still perform the signalling function of "it's ok to contribute less" but at the same time it keeps the ballpark figure higher.
5. Do nothing, or contribute offline. May seem the easy option, but it doesn't provide any helpful signal. The charity still appears in the same position as at the start, with a single lonely contribution apparently discouraging followers.
This is not a web issue, the same question often arises where a short list of donations is passed around with any office collection.
So what did you do?
Sunday, January 25, 2009
01. If you swear upon a book of fiction
Does that excuse some faulty diction?
02. If sexuality's a choice, as you say,
When d'you decide you're not gay?
03. It still makes me wonder and chuckle
That religion makes grown adults suckle
04. You have no right to tell me what to do
Who to love and who to screw
05. Lots of loud and mad debates
Between those who take and make their fates
06. A founding father he may be
But Paine was hardly G.O.P.
07. Remember just who is the boss
The one who orders up this toss
08. Murderous dictators, he honestly said,
Are not as bad as old P-Zed
09. Pious man dies, that's a shame
Pious man saved, god's to blame
10. "Blindly follow these rules"
Orders for zealots and fools
11. We carry more hope than we should
But that's not necessarily good
12. If our bodies are so well "designed"
Then the designer who did it was blind
13. We're really not all the same
Except that we don't play that game
14. Like a snowball that's rolling downhill
The Ickefest is gathering swill
15. God may be sexy and hot
But merciful? No, he is not.
16. Oxymoron for christian nation
Simply: science education
17. Bible Magic's what he saw
He'd like to call it vjack's law
18. And to lead this godless fold
Newly ordained Rev'rend Gold
19. To end this back where we began
Obama. Wait to judge the man.
Or in more traditional exposition:
01. Mark P presents Swearing In...the Oath posted at Proud Atheists.
02. The Whited Sepulchre presents The Whited Sepulchre: Light To See By posted at The Whited Sepulchre.
03. PhillyChief presents Religion is a Tit posted at You Made Me Say It....
04. Diana Hsieh presents Duty of Sexual Restraint? posted at Politics without God.
05. Luke Muehlhauser presents 300+ Atheism vs. Theism Debates posted at Common Sense Atheism.
06. Ron Britton presents The Separation of Logic and Fundie posted at Bay of Fundie.
07. Andrew Bernardin presents God Commands: Stay in Line posted at the evolving mind.
08.. larryniven presents Catholicism: false posted at Rust Belt Philosophy.
09. Seth Manapio presents Whiskey Before Breakfast... the Blog: a little dose of god stuff posted at Whiskey Before Breakfast... the Blog.
10. Romeo Vitelli presents Brother XII posted at Providentia.
11. Greta Christina presents Is Hope Always a Good Thing? posted at Greta Christina's Blog.
12. Greta Christina presents Stupid Design: Rube Goldberg Brains and the Argument for Evolution posted at Greta Christina's Blog.
13. Hank presents Why I am not an atheist posted at Dangerous Intersection.
14. Enshoku presents David Icke vs the reptoid army: Can the cats kill the jews? posted at Enshoku's Weblog.
15. Obadiah Shoher presents God is merciful? posted at Samson Blinded.
16. vjack presents How to Defend Science Education in Your State posted at Mississippi Atheists.
17. vjack presents The Christian Bible is Magic: Introducing Vjack's Law posted at Atheist Revolution.
18. Ron Gold presents The Invisible Pink Unicorn: It's Official: I'm An Atheist Minister! posted at The Invisible Pink Unicorn.
19. Melanie Pinkert presents Religion and Politics: Making Peace with Obama's Peacemaking posted at BroadSnark.
And for the next COTG, welcome Ridger FCD.
Er. that's it.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
In fact CNN reports that: if the speech could be said to have an animating spirit, it was that of Thomas Paine.
Ben McIntyre in the Times conveys the same message, albeit with a more informal tone: The words of a drunken, dishevelled Norfolk pamphleteer lay at the heart of the new President's message
That pamphleteer provided the title and inspiration for everything I write here.
He also provided the title and inspiration for the United States of America.
Common Sense is the way out of Crisis.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Consequently, topically, I was reassured to hear comparatively little bleating about the supposed "miracle" on Hudson river, and instead more emphasis on the skill and experience of the pilot and the strength of modern aircraft design, though perhaps we should also wonder who decided to develop a major airport in the middle of a densely populated urban area. But that was New York. I'm not even qualified to be a bus driver in London, though we shouldn't extrapolate from one moron to the rest of the public transport operation.
And on that note, proving that I really have left the world of serious work behind me for a while, the Carnival of the Godless is coming to these shores next week. Submit entries here.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
From Tamar Weinberg's best internet marketing posts of 2008, I picked up a top five (outdated) reasons why a blog is not a traditional website:
- Blogs are dynamic, websites are not
- Blogs encourage conversation, websites do not
- Blogs offer RSS, websites do not
- Blogs publish current news, websites do not
- Blogs create the blogosphere while websites are in a way standalone islands
That is, on a website, you expect every page to be still relevant, outdated pages to be dropped. On a blog, you expect the information on each page to be current only at the point in time that the page was published. But I have some pages on my blog that are timeless. Tad suggests removing the date from these pages. Instead, what I'll do is copy them to my website.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I still maintain that every word and every picture that we ever leave anywhere on the web becomes part of our online CV, whether we like it or not. So within this blog I still try to demonstrate creativity, experience, focus, opinion, passion, reason and a sense of humour together with some hints that I know a bit more about marketing, technology, architecture, language, statistics, semiotics, and every other subject that interests me. So obviously I agree that recruiters should be looking for people like me.
But I have reconsidered slightly in the last days. Ultimately I am a director of a small limited company that supplies consultancy services - it has its own website, but it has so far been just a placeholder rather than a sales tool. From now I think some of the more work-focused themes might start to go there (it's clearly still in development).
Which means this blog can get personal ...
Friday, January 09, 2009
1. I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.
2. It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.
3. Our favorite holding period is forever.
4. We believe that according the name 'investors' to institutions that trade actively is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a 'romantic.'
5. Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.
Those are genuine quotes from the investing legend. I should have diversified more widely.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
However worse times are coming. News today: The Bank of England has cut interest rates to 1.5%, the lowest level in its 315-year history, as it continues efforts to aid an economic recovery. The Bank of England is shafting us.
Manufacturers' association EEF said the move was "too timid", and that the Bank should have cut rates further. Self-serving poppycock . The reduction of interest rates is not the only weapon in the arsenal of weapons available to tackle stagnation of demand. Whatever happened to the direct fiscal stimulus? Investing in the infrastructure of the country?
There are seven times as many net savers as net borrowers in this country, though overall saving rates are overall about zero as average borrowing is about seven times average saving. But all these ridiculous cuts will do is encourage more borrowing. Madness. That is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Admittedly this has been done without any major research. But in principle, without even thinking about it, my basic investment strategies have broadly followed the legendary Motley Fool guidelines and the even more legendary Warren Buffett guidelines:
Even my biggest financial mistake was made in accordance with those principles, though it was also based on a stupid anecdote.
So, after Telewest, apart from a series of technology stocks, my next two big investments were solid well known retail brands with prime high street locations, I thought they were undervalued shares with excellent potential being ripe for turnaround.
One of those stocks was Woolworths.
Anybody else out there who wants to follow my financial advice?
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
The big news at the moment is the Israeli assault on Gaza in apparent retaliation for the rockets that Hamas has been firing into Israel. No opinion on that here, but I think that I'm more knowledgeable on the subject than the average Brit. Even at school, I did a whole semester researching the background of the conflicts. The course was called "West Asian Studies". Clearly that's a better name than "Middle Eastern Studies".
Also from much earlier school history classes, I recall early ignorance about why Upper Egypt was shown below Lower Egypt on maps in history class. Of course it's obvious now. But because we are so used to arbitrarily seeing North at the top of maps, it confused this poor schoolboy. I know there are some novelty maps (typically Australian) that reverse the world, but actually I don't think these maps should be "novelty" at all, there should be more varieties and perspectives, then it's harder for little kids to grow up with flat earth or other biblical misconceptions.
Monday, January 05, 2009
1. These are the best places that I visited this year
2. These are the best books and films of the past year
3. These are my resolutions and predictions for the new year
4. These were my most commented posts of last year
5. I should post every day.
Actually that wasn't meant to be critical, those are all perfectly good reasons. I'd have done one too, but I've been away. Normal service to resume shortly.
Monday, December 29, 2008
1. LS Lowry - painter
2. David Hockney - artist
3. Michael Faraday - chemist, experimenter, demonstrator, and the man who made electricity usable
4. Frederick Sanger - the only living double Nobel prizewinner, without his work we could not yet know the structures of basic proteins, let alone be able to sequence the human genome
5. Humphrey Lyttleton - jazz trumpeter, cartoonist, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
Saturday, December 27, 2008
5. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - Needs no introduction
4. David Ivon Gower - Apparently all style and grace and elegance, played as if without a care in the world, but still England's most reliable run-getter
3. Sourav Chandidas Ganguly - India's David Gower, but also an explosive one-day batsman and an agressive inspirational captain. And he's Bengali.
2. Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards - While the rest of the world complained of West Indies' fast bowler policy, Viv just swatted away bouncers from in front of his unprotected head. In an era before batsman-friendly field restrictions, he scored just as fast as he liked. Simply the best batsman I've ever seen.
1. Bradman - obviously.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I rarely cook. But a recent long vacation in India (see here and here) reignited my taste buds. And I've discovered it's easy. Time-consuming and tedious, but easy. The results are excellent, even though I say so myself. Nobody else does.
My wife says it's because I have such low expectations. Because I like simple dals and tarkaris. But I do things properly, fresh spices - no pre-bought pastes, not because they are universally pricey, but because they are universally vile.
One issue is that you can only get these ingredients in "Indian" shops, not in the big supermarket that supply our basic weekly requirements. And those shops are a bit out of the way, designed for local users. Whenever we drive down, there's never anywhere to park. Problem.
Problem sorted. Tomorrow, while most of the world sits down to christmas lunch, I'll pop down then. They're always open. Thank god not everyone's a christian.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I think bidding on penny auction sites is akin to a gambling-like experience," Professor Griffiths said. "Obviously, when people are bidding again and again and again and they don't actually win the item in the end, that's very much like gambling."
However, Juha Koski from online auction site Madbid.com disagrees. "We have two experts who have given us their opinion on this. This is definitely a game of skill and would not form under any circumstances under the definition of gambling."
That was the most surprising disagreement since Madoff disagreed with proposed hedge fund regulation. Five reasons why these auctions are really lotteries:
1. The gambler pays for every "bid", each bid is essentially a non-refundable ticket
2. The final price of the item bears minimal relation to the value of the item on the open market
3. The lottery operator (or seller) gains most profit not from the winning bidder but instead from the number of bids made (or tickets bought)
4. The operators argue that entry needs significant skill. Actually I agree - in the same sense that choosing lottery numbers requires significant skill
5.Sometimes the winning price is the lowest unique bid, that essentially proves it
It's obvious. If the supposed regulators cannot work this out then they are either incompetent statistical morons or subservient slaves of the gaming industry.
[note: yes I know that choosing lottery numbers requires some "skill" to avoid picking the obvious numbers that other people are more likely to have picked]
Saturday, December 20, 2008
1. they both need to learn their lines
2. they both dress in uncomfortable period costumes
3. they both need to be male (very few exceptions)
4. they both talk in an old form of language that nobody really uses these days
5. the better the actor, the better the performance
Friday, December 19, 2008
Really just a follow-up to the previous post. In the style of economist Tyler Cowen and his regular sentence of the day, I quote Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing and other new marketing handbooks. From Seth's blog today:
57% of the marketers surveyed hadn't read a blog in the last year. These people are incompetent and should be fired.
Sorry, that's more than one sentence. Anyway, people have different and varied interests. Lack of interest in the web 2.0 should not be an absolute killer. Yet to put it into perspective I'll quote something obvious from Neil Perkin again , then follow with something from his last note:
It is irrelevant whether people prefer writing a blog, posting their pictures on flickr, or Facebook, or their passing thoughts on twitter, or whether they do all or any combination of the above - the point is is that they are doing it at all.
Advertising has to learn to help people do their thing with each other, rather than send messages to the world in the hope of making an impact.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Firestarters from Neil Perkin, Director of Marketing & Strategy for the commercial functions of IPC Media. It's excellent. Not only is it "I couldn't have put it better myself" but it's "exactly how I'd have put it myself".
Times are tough. The recruitment market is tough. But here are 5 reasons why employing people who blog is more important than ever:
1. They start fires. Blogging forces you to come up with new stuff. To be interesting.
2. They understand the value of connection. And are connected. To other interesting people.
3. They get digital. They appreciate the nuances and potential of social media. And how it works. Because they're doing it, not looking at it.
4. They network like crazy.
5. But most of all, because they're bothered. They have an opinion. They're not afraid to express it. They're passionate about their subject. And real passion is rare indeed.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
1. A few acres of land
2. A few thousand families
For each family:
1. Fence of your personal area with bamboo and twine, then string up a temporary shelter in the middle of it.
2. When you can afford to, replace the temporary shelter with a mud shack, keeping a small plot to grow your vegetables or tether your goat
3. When you can afford to, replace the mud shack with a fairly solid brick and plaster structure
4. As funds allow, gradually add floors to give yourself more living space
5. Tear the whole house down and build a block of flats on the same little plot, extending right to the roadside. Goodbye green space, hello modern suburb.
Friday, December 12, 2008
1. The same people have lived in the same houses for generations. Almost no geographical mobility. Everybody hangs out at the same local watering holes.
2. The local store owner lives above his shop just a couple of houses down the road from you. He stocks everything and knows the price of everything. You ask him for what you need to buy, he hands it to you. Open all hours.
3. The local bank manager lives in the same street too. New accounts and loan acceptance are based largely on personal recommendation.
4. Windows and doors are open all day, most people walk to work, kids play in the street.
5. The local rag'n'bone man comes round daily with his animal-drawn trailer to collect your reusable household waste
Sounds ideal, but there is a lot that was wrong with that world, and it is disappearing fast - because now is the age of the department store - tomorrow may be the age of the internet, that will be very different again.