Coalitions

April 10, 2015

Just a short posting to record my current estimate of what will happen in the UK general election next month.

This will probably change but the best guess I have (most based on bookie quotes) is the following:
Conservative 285 seats.
Labour 270.
Scottish Nationalist 44.
Liberal Democrat 26.
Democratic Unionist 8.
Sinn Fein 5.
Party of Wales 3.
Social Democratic and Labour 3.
UK Independence 2.
Green 1.
Alliance 1.
Independent Unionist 1.
The Speaker 1.

The most obvious coalition would be Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat (340 seats, a majority of 31).

But the one that actually works best would be the most devious. A Conservative-SNP coalition would have a 9 seat majority and could only have one agenda: Scottish independence, taking away a dozen Labour and three Tory seats.

Devious because Labour would point out that the SNP promised not to let the Tories back in. To which the answer would be “not in Scotland, we haven’t”. Devious also because the Tory party, which most benefits from Scottish independence, sees itself as defender of the Union.

Who wants the power, and how badly?

Shall we all go down to the police station to arrest each other then, dear?

January 30, 2015

Today is the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s winning an election under “fair” election rules to become Germany’s Chancellor. A good occasion to consider the latest Feminazi assault on due process in criminal cases in England and Wales.

If I’ve understood the new British guidelines on abolishing the presumption of innocence in rape cases, I think I can accuse every woman I’ve had sex with of rape, and none of them can prove their innocence. Just as well I’m not so naughty as to accuse women I’ve NEVER slept with…

Mind you, so can they accuse me back, and I’m sure I didn’t get a signed confession of consent in each instance. Shall we all go down to the police station to arrest each other then, dear?

This couldn’t have ANY bad consequences, could it? We don’t have a statute of limitations in England so a 99 year-old can accuse a 102 year-old for not keeping the appropriate forms. All because HE didn’t call her back afterwards.

I know the rules are only meant to make all men get treated as violent criminals, but that won’t last five minutes before someone uses sex equality to get the same rules for women. Think pension rights and free bus passes for over 60-year-olds. I bet the Feminazis didn’t expect those consequences of their silly campaigns. Wait till it becomes clear that this crazy policy results in most people trivialising rape claims.

More fun when the “No win no fee” lot get onto this!

Read the rest of this entry »

How likely would you be to recommend a friend or relative to visit the emergency ward of an NHS hospital?

October 28, 2014

Had to get an X-Ray today for an injured toe at the ***** **** Hospital in London. I wouldn’t have written about it, except I got a call asking for my satisfaction rating.

I scored 4 out of 5. Where “1” was “highly likely to recommend” and “5” was “highly unlikely to recommend” that hospital to friends and family.

BTW, what kind of a rating is that? In the National Health Service we don’t “recommend” a hospital for an emergency, it gets decided for us. Good luck Americans and French people, this is the future you’ve now voted for.

It was not as bad as my last visit (that time the staff tried to give a relative two doses of the same intravenous drug, didn’t want to know when I pointed out the duplication, and don’t seem to have bothered keeping a record of the incident), but shockingly poor organisation, as usual.

One staff (I don’t think health care professional titles are appropriate) was calling out patient names incorrectly: middle names instead of surnames (I’m not sure if she could understand when someone pointed this out to her). Three staff were trying to call the same person. A woman who was bleeding and afraid of losing her baby was essentially told to go in a corner and miscarry quietly, because the computer said “No”.

The “cleaner” would have been sacked by McDonalds. In fact, I’d rather eat of the floor in a McDonalds than walk barefoot in some NHS hospitals I could name.

Two staff had colds or the flu and were coughing on patients in the ER. I thought hospital staff with throat infections were supposed to stay away from patients. Silly me.

With all this in mind, I told the caller that in a life-threatening situation I would look for any alternative hospital if possible.

Anyhow, I was asked what I thought and gave it, with both barrels. I must say, the aftercare HAS improved a lot… I completely forgot all about my toe. Maybe I’m wrong, I should give the place a “1”.

One for Brian Micklethwait

August 15, 2013

I took this in Paris. One of the trio is 3,200 years older than the other two.

trio paris

Horse racing

August 11, 2013

I’ve never got into horse racing, as I usually couldn’t tell a [insert name of some type of horse] from [insert another].

I know so little about it that I’m not tempted.

But I am fascinated by the complexity of betting on horse races. Terms like “I’ll have an each-way trixie and a lucky 31, all at SP.” And the bookie knows exactly how many horses names will be called (at least five and at most eight) and within minutes nearly 100 bet calculations will be made.

As I was sitting in a betting shop watching some cricket, I decided to try out an idea I’ve had about the way people bet.

I knew nothing at all about any of the horses, or the jockeys, or the trainers. I made no allowances for the race course, the horses recent performances [“form”], or racing conditions.

All I cared about was how many places would be paid out for an each way bet. Just a warning for Americans, you don’t use the same terms as in the UK or Ireland, so what we call a “place” isn’t the same as what you think it means.

I sat through five races and despite misgivings about one of them (too many horses ranked very close together), I duly picked and wrote down my choices. I did NOT however, go to a cashier and place any of these.

The Curragh (a race course in Ireland), the 4.15pm race. The payout for each way was 1/4 odds for either first or second. In the 4.45pm race at the same venue, the each way was 1/4 odds for the first three to finish.

Leicester (in the East Midlands of England), the 4.25pm race. One fifth odds for the first three to cross the line.

Downpatrick (which I assumed to be in Ireland), the 4.30pm race. Again one fifth odds for the first three.

Windsor the 4.40pm race, one quarter odds for the first two.

My picks were Hamza at 6/1, Brazen at 10/1, Ironmill Lad at 8/1, Understory at 5/1 and Sassaway at 8/1.

I chose them with the following principles: how many places were there? Take the horse that has odds putting it closest outside the each way places. So in my first race where the first two would pay out, Hamza was the third favourite. In a couple of races there was a cluster of choices on the same odds (Ironmill Lad’s race for example). There I picked the one that was drifting out. That means the horse the punters were moving their money AWAY from. This worked brilliantly with Sassaway but failed with Ironmill Lad. Where it looked like the odds might be getting shorter (say they were 8/1 but had been 9/1 earlier) I would “take the price”, otherwise I was taking “SP” (the price quoted as the race started).

My choice of bet was an “each way Lucky 31″. I would have put £1 on each selection, which would have cost me £62.

The fun is that this would have automatically selected for me the following combinations:

Five singles:

Hamza to finish first or second.

Brazen to finish first, second or third.

Ironmill Lad to finish first, second or third.

Understory to finish first or second.

Sassaway to finish first, second or third.

Ten doubles:

Hamza and Brazen.

Hamza and Ironmill Lad.

Hamza and Understory.

Hamza and Sassaway.

Brazen and Ironmill Lad.

Brazen and Understory.

Brazen and Sassaway.

Ironmill Lad and Understory.

Ironmill Lad and Sassaway.

Understory and Sassaway.

Ten trebles:

Every possible combination of three of the five horses.

Five fourfold accumulators:

Every possible combination of four of the five horses.

Finally, a fivefold accumulator: all five selections to win or place.

I was effectively making 62 selections (31 bets with either a win or a place) and there were 13 possible winning results for me. In three races, I was winning if my pick finished in the top three. In the other two races, a top-two finish would be needed. I had thirteen possible chances of winning something.

Hamza finished second. Brazen won. Ironmill Lad was in the top two for a long time but didn’t finish in the first five. Understory looked good for most of his race but was well beaten, with a top jockey (who I would have backed if I’d done any kind of research) winning by some distance. Sassaway won well.

If I’d put £10 on each to win, I’d have spent £50 and got £190 back, a profit of 280%.

My Lucky 31 going £1 each way would have cost £62. I would have got £250 back, a profit of 303.2%.

I’m not tempted, but I can see how it might be compelling. And I admit I would have been pretty excited while the races were running.

The State owns your Xray

August 9, 2013

The highlights of my visit (keeping a relative company) to a socialized healthcare hospital tonight.

The way a young woman was silently screaming in pain and all the hospital staff pretended not to notice. She’d fractured her arm badly and spent several hours without anyone doing anything to help.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before, the last time was a gay man who was passing out after being bashed on the head and no one tried to keep him awake. I hope he didn’t go into a coma. Another time – at a different hospital – a woman with her foot twisted 90 degrees fell off a trolley and writhed on the ground screaming for about 10 minutes while medical staff stepped over her to get to a break room for their cups of tea, until a doctor pointed and barked an order “sort that out!” But not tonight.

The complete lack of communication from doctor to nurse. The latter didn’t know anything about what she was bandaging or what it was for. The doctor, of course, couldn’t do a bandage. He also couldn’t give a copy of the X-ray to the patient, or email it (X-rays in socialized medicine belong to the state). There was a competent administrator who seemed to understand what was going on, which was a novelty, but he had zero authority.

The problem of continuity in care is not exclusively a problem of socialized medicine, but is worse: the client, whatever the mission statement may claim, is not the patient, but the owner of the X-rays.

The “Urgent Care Centre” was a hive of inactivity. It was new and looked clean. It was empty. I’ve spent a quarter of an hour trying to remember the last time I was in a place that exuded less urgency and care than this place. I failed. I was at a crematorium recently and that was like the pit lane of a Formula One Grand Prix racing track by comparison.

There was a two hour wait for a “bed” to put the bandage on, because there wasn’t a footrest in the hospital. In the end a supposedly-qualified nurse tried to put a bandage which was too small, and wanted to tape the edges on the fracture. She and her trainee colleague had to be told by the patient how to bandage a fractured toe. They couldn’t figure out that putting the foot on a chair would made bandaging the toe easier.

I counted seven doctors sitting around doing nothing. Actually not nothing: they were taking up chairs that could have been used as footrests.

A visit that would have taken one hour in a competently managed facility took three hours, most of it spent waiting for an unnecessary bed. Apart from the X-ray, which required equipment, nothing that happened would have required anyone more competent than a cub scout who has his first aid badge.

A visit to the nearby private hospital’s Accident and Emergency centre would have cost something like £200 (I looked it up here). I wonder how much in taxes the socialized version costs?

Open email to Amazon

September 7, 2011

Here’s the text of an email I sent to Amazon‘s customer services, about my last-minute decision NOT to buy several albums of music from the store.

Having read the terms and conditions I have decided not to make a purchase for the following reasons:
1) I don’t understand what Amazon’s “right to withdraw” software means for my MP3 download. Does it mean that I can pay for a download and Amazon can, without warning, disable the download? If so, that sounds like a rubbish deal.

2) Ownership. I understand the restrictions on retransmitting and not sharing MP3s, but the statement that I do not own the download begs the question: what exactly am I paying for if I don’t own the download?

3) Cross border restrictions: I currently live in the UK, but I have lived in other countries and I may go and live in the USA. Am I supposed to destroy my UK downloads every time I go and live in another country? What if I spend half my time in the USA and the other half in the UK? Am I not allowed to keep one set of files? Seems very inconvenient.

Consequence: I have never yet bought any downloaded music. At £0.79 a track and my likely target of 1,000 pieces, that’s about £800 of lost business for Amazon. What benefit are you getting that’s worth annoying potential customers this much?

Kind regards,
Antoine Clarke

Rugby, cricket, but not football

August 14, 2011

This is no fluke. England has the best five-day cricket playing team. And the style by which this has been achieved, an innings and 242 run spanking of India, is distinctly un-English, for those who bleated for Tim Henman at Wimbledon or who persist in dreaming that “passion” will win the football team a World Cup.

Let’s be clear how much better England were than India: add another (third) Indian innings and they probably wouldn’t have equalled England’s first innings. Take away Alastair Cook’s 294 runs and his team would have needed 53 runs to win, which is how many Tim Bresnan, the bowler who comes in at No 8 to bat, scored. And India couldn’t get Bresnan out.

I warned that this England cricket squad is as good or nearly as good as the very best in the modern era.

It isn’t a fluke. The foundations for the achievement of becoming test cricket’s number one rated side go back beyond 2005, when England first mugged the then supreme team Australia in an Ashes series which was celebrated like winning a football world cup. There were some slip ups, but since the appointment of the South-African-born Andrew Strauss, this climb up the rankings (England was listed as the worst test playing team at one point) has been the result of the right attitude, preparation and keeping the “passion” to celebrating actual achievements, unlike soccer.

Now cricket joins rugby union as a sport in which the England team have, within the past decade, achieved global superiority. Football, a sport with vastly more money, more spectators and a depth of players, has, by contrast been an utter failure.

Here is England’s World Cup and European Championship record since 1966:

England (World Cup 4th [1990], European Championships 3rd [1968, 1996])

And here are some comparable achievements by countries not rated highly by English soccer fans, commentators or players:
Belgium (World Cup 4th [1986], European Championship 2nd [1980], 3rd [1972])
Bulgaria (World Cup 4th [1994])
Croatia (World Cup 3rd [1998])
Czech Republic (European championship 2nd [1996], 3rd [2004])
Czechoslovakia (European championship 1st [1976], 3rd [1980])
Denmark (European championship 1st [1992], 3rd [1984])
Greece (European championship 1st [2004])
Hungary (European championship 4th [1972])
Poland (World Cup 3rd [1974, 1982])
Russia (European championship 3rd [2008])
Sweden (World Cup 3rd [1994], European championship 4th [1992])
Turkey (World Cup 3rd [2002], European championship 4th [2008])
USSR (European championship 2nd [1972, 1988], 4th [1968])
Yugoslavia (European championship 2nd [1968], 4th [1976])

The teams with better records than England since 1966 also includes Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal, all of which have at least reached a final.

The first problem for English football is the difficulty in accepting what reasonable expectations to begin with and to work (as opposed to emote) to improve this. It’s hard to accept that Belgium is a more successful footballing country at World and European championships. But investigating why and how to improve on this is the way forward.

It’s a good idea for team spirit if all the players sing the National Anthem with feeling before a game. But it’s not a sufficient skill for winning.

England the best (nearly)

August 2, 2011

There is a tendency among English (and to a certain extent British) sports commentators and supporters to consider national teams either complete rubbish or world class. I’ve written an analysis of the England soccer team at the 2010 World Cup, compared with major rivals which goes into this in some detail. Some time (Real Soon Now, hopefully) I’ll publish it as a page here.

But for now, I want to take issue with Derek Pringle, a former Test player for England, and presently a commentator for the Daily Telegraph. He writes about yesterday’s England win over world number one India:

It was a pounding, delivered with the swaggering elan of the two finest sides of the last 30 years: the West Indies under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards; and Australia under Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh.
They are not yet as consistently ruthless as those teams but successive wins against India appears to have given them an appetite for world domination judging from the one-sided nature of the cricket here.

Now I would bet that any English reader of the quote is going to assume that I want to criticise the comparison with the great West Indian or Australian sides. But that isn’t my complaint. It’s that Andrew Strauss, the South African-born England captain has already matched or surpassed the standards set by the four great captains listed above.

Here’s the record:

Andrew Strauss (England): Captained 37 times, won 19 (51.4%), lost 5 (13.5%), drawn 13 (35.1%).

Clive Lloyd (West Indies): Captained 74 times, won 36 (48.6%), lost 12 (16.2%), drawn 26 (35.1%).
Viv Richards (West Indies): Captained 50 times, won 27 (54.0%), lost 8 (16.0%), drawn 15 (30.0%).
Mark Taylor (Australia): Captained 50 times, won 26 (52.0%), lost 13 (26.0%), drawn 11 (22.0%).
Steve Waugh (Australia): Captained 57 times, won 41 (71.9%), lost 9 (15.8%), drawn 7 (12.3%).

Now it is clear that Strauss can claim to be more successful than Lloyd, in a near dead heat with Richards and Taylor and behind Waugh. But consider the starting point. The West Indies under Lloyd and England under Strauss did not start from a position of undisputed world’s top test cricket teams. And Steve Waugh’s loss rate is worse than Strauss’ even though he started with the top team in the world.

The simple truth is this. A team coming up against Andrew Strauss’ England does not expect to win (his loss rate is the lowest of the five). Which is precisely what it was like to face those other great captains. I think it’s time to recognise this fact and enjoy it while it lasts.

As a result of the 319-runs win in the second test, taking a 2-0 lead in the four match series, England are on course to take over from India as the top test playing team in the International Cricket Council rankings. Already, Strauss’ team is guaranteed at least second place, leap-frogging South Africa.

Sharia-controlled zones

July 28, 2011

The UK’s Freedom Association is getting excited about the attempt by Islamic activists to claim sovereignty over parts of the country. This is being done by putting up flyposters declaring that a part of town is a “Sharia-controlled zone.”

It is amusing that of all the actions taken by groups such as Islam4UK, it is the challenge to local government’s authority that is being taken seriously by politicians. They don’t like it when people take charge of their own communities. Waltham Forest Council Leader, Cllr Chris Robbins, said:

“As soon as we heard about these posters we worked over the weekend to take them all down.” He continued “since then we have been going through our CCTV images and working with the police to try to identify the culprits. Our policy is to use the full extent of our powers to prosecute any offenders.”

Anyone expecting me to criticise Islam in this posting will be disappointed. It is true that if or when a previously Western liberal democracy whose leaders spouted secularist moral relativism becomes a truly Sharia country, I may not like the extent to which people are not allowed to live as they wish in private. But when it comes to people deciding that the state is not their friend, just a hugely expensive nuisance, attempts to provide a “bottom-up” order will occur.

Could I live in a Sharia-controlled zone? Probably easily enough. I’m not an atheist, or gay. I could give up drinking alcohol, though I would probably insist that Christian services be allowed to use Communion wine. I don’t normally smoke or do drugs, I’m quite happy not to gamble, or wear a tie. Growing a beard would take time and I’d miss Match of the Day.

I would however, get a lot of fun watching how the multicultis would cope. Those politically correct, invariably white middle-class, secularist atheists and gay rights activists alike, who think reading about the history of the Eastern Roman Empire is somehow racist or “unhelpful to the project.” Who think it’s wrong for an Afrikaner to say “kaffir” but insist that when the word is used in Arabic, it’s not a term of abuse. Who think saying “Peace be Upon Him” after the Prophet’s name is enough to indicate proper respect of Islam.

The most absurd piece of multiculralist propaganda I recently heard was the claim that the Prophet himself was not a man of war. What an insult to one of the most brilliant military commanders of all history! The expansion of territory controlled by Islamic law in the 7th and 8th centuries is nothing less than remarkable. Most of it was done by conquest but on paper the armies of the Prophet should never have won.

One of the crucial advantages was faith. I’m not an expert on how far this explains the conquest of the Arabian peninsula, the near East, Egypt, North Africa, Spain and Aquitaine (or Gothia as it was still known).

But when taking on the technologically superior Eastern Roman Empire, it helped that the soldiers of Islam offered lower taxes, less oppression from religious intolerance and a more business-friendly view of society than the Byzantines. For Jews and non-Orthodox Christians, submitting to the rule of the Rashidun Caliphate was a clear improvement.

If the campaigners for Sharia law in the UK were to effectively drive out the existing local government control, so that instead of paying Council Tax, Business Rates and the various charges that Councils levy, they paid something like the kharaj and the jizya, might non-Muslims move into such enclaves, especially if crime was effectively controlled?

Waltham Council certainly doesn’t want to find out.


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