— ITV News (@itvnews) November 20, 2014
— AndrewSparrow (@AndrewSparrow) November 21, 2014
The 4 Rochester & Strood polls. pic.twitter.com/NeCDkQrtY1
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) November 21, 2014
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— ITV News (@itvnews) November 20, 2014
— AndrewSparrow (@AndrewSparrow) November 21, 2014
The 4 Rochester & Strood polls. pic.twitter.com/NeCDkQrtY1
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) November 21, 2014
Some have expressed surprise that the Kinks should put out another box set, when Picture Book, a six-CD box set spanning the band’s whole career, came out less than six years ago.
The reason is very simple, really. This time they’ve got Andrew Sandoval, so they’re going to do it properly.
There were two big problems with Picture Book. The first was the comparative lack of interesting new recordings, but the second, bigger, problem was that it spanned the Kinks’ whole career.
Put simply, while one can argue about the exact length of the period during which the Kinks were what is technically known as Any Good At All, all but the most obsessive fan will agree that, say, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society or Arthur, Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire is more worthwhile than Schoolboys In Disgrace or UK Jive. While Ray and Dave Davies were always the core of the band, the team that made the great records was Ray, Dave, Pete Quaife, and Mick Avory, with Nicky Hopkins on piano and Rasa Davies on backing vocals. As those others dropped out one at a time, and particularly as Ray and Rasa’s marriage broke down, Ray’s songwriting deteriorated, and along with it the delicacy of touch that made the band’s late-60s work some of the best music ever recorded.
In my own book on the band, I took 1974 as the cut-off point, as the first ten years seemed as good a choice to cover as any. Here the cut-off is 1971, the end of the band’s contract with Pye Records, which also happily coincides with the band’s last notable UK hit singles, Lola and Apeman. So the five CDs here cover roughly the same ground as the first three CDs of Picture Book.
But this also has much more point to it than Picture Book. In the years since that release, Andrew Sandoval has supervised a series of double-CD deluxe editions of the Kinks’ albums, in much the same manner as his earlier wonderful Monkees deluxe editions. For these he pulled together a huge amount of previously unheard material — demos, outtakes, and BBC recordings, which essentially doubled the available 60s recordings by the band. The Anthology: 1964-1971 collects the best of these in one place, along with around twenty previously unreleased mixes, session recordings, and backing tracks (depending on what you actually count as unreleased tracks — the advertising claims twenty-five in total, but some of those are 19 seconds of studio chatter or an interview, but on the other hand the three takes of Dedicated Follower of Fashion only count as one track).
But it doesn’t make the other mistake that Picture Book made, which was to include alternative versions instead of the hits. While album tracks like The Village Green Preservation Society or B-sides like Big Black Smoke might be presented in live versions or different mixes, the singles are all here as you know them. Picture Book included outtake versions of Dead End Street and Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, but not the originals, which has to count as one of the more baffling decisions made for one of these compilations.
The result is the definitive collection of the Kinks’ best work, covering the hits, the important album tracks, and rarities like the live performance of This Strange Effect (a hit Ray wrote for Dave Berry) or the demo of I Go To Sleep. The tracklisting isn’t perfect — I’d have cut down disc one a bit, and included Yes Sir, No Sir, Moneygoround and Phenomenal Cat instead of some things like the rather poor live Chuck Berry covers, if we’re going purely on musical value. But on the other hand, the early Kinks did do a lot of raw R&B covers, and including some of them is important if you want to represent all facets of the band. It gets far more right than it gets wrong, including things like having the last of the Great Lost Kinks Album tracks to get an official CD release.
There’s not a HUGE amount here for those who don’t have the deluxe albums, but even for those who do having all of it in one place makes for a better listening experience, and the whole thing has been remastered. I am never sure to what extent I’m a decent judge of sound quality, but it sounds improved even over the deluxe CDs of a couple of years ago — listening just on headphones from my laptop, I not only heard guitar parts I’d not properly noticed before, but heard the plectrum hitting the strings.
The one problem I have is with the packaging. The booklet is very nicely done, but uninformative — it’s mostly a collage of news reports from the time, when it’d be nice to have had interviews with the surviving band members or something. I also thought that the quotes from members of Bon Jovi and Guns ‘n’ Roses and similar bands rather implied that I would respect the opinions of people in Guns ‘n’ Roses or Bon Jovi, which I could easily take as an insult, but I presume those are aimed at the band’s American audience, who mostly know them from their godawful stadium rock years.
But the case for the CDs themselves is simply *bad*. It’s a fold-out cardboard booklet, and it holds the CDs so tightly it’s literally impossible to get them out without gripping hold of them by the playing surface. I am convinced that sooner rather than later either the booklet will rip or the CDs will break, and it’s *so* bad that I would actually advise people just to get the MP3s rather than the physical media in this case — except that if you do you miss out on the vinyl-only live single that comes with the box.
But that’s the only flaw in an otherwise wonderful collection. Andrew Sandoval said on Facebook that it’s the best thing he’s ever worked on. I’m not sure I’d agree — I don’t think it tops the Nilsson box set last year, and it *may* not top some of the Monkees reissues he’s put out — but it’s very good. If you’re a Kinks completist there’s not a huge amount here you don’t have, but enough to keep you happy, while if you’re a more casual fan wanting to find out what there is to the Kinks other than that wonderful run of singles, you’ll discover exactly why the Kinks are second only to the Beatles among 60s British bands.
Hard and soft on the heels of the announcement about beer foam’s anti-spillage property comes other news about beer foam research:
“The popular bar prank known in colloquial English as beer tapping consists in hitting the top of a beer bottle with a solid object, usually another bottle, to trigger the foaming over of the former within a few seconds. Despite the trick being known for a long time, to the best of our knowledge, the phenomenon still lacks scientific explanation. Although it seems natural to think that shock-induced cavitation enhances the diffusion of CO2 from the supersaturated bulk liquid into the bubbles by breaking them up, the subtle mechanism by which this happens remains unknown. Here, we show that the overall foaming-over process can be divided into three stages where different physical phenomena take place in different time scales: namely, the bubble-collapse (or cavitation) stage, the diffusion-driven stage, and the buoyancy-driven stage…. The physics behind this explosive process sheds insight into the dynamics of geological phenomena such as limnic eruptions.”
(Thanks to investigator Andrew Garner for bringing this to our attention.)
Lauren Davis wrote about this, earlier in the year, in Io9: “Why does beer overflow when you tap one bottle on top of another?“
Olivia Castellini made a video in which she demonstrates and explains the phenomenon:
The first radio stations to play it were the black ones in America, because we sounded black. When they saw pictures of four little white boys, they dropped us from their playlists, but by then the song had taken off.Thanks to Catalina Island Museum for the photograph of the Spencer Davis Group, which I believe comes from Spencer Davis's own collection, He lives on the island, which lies off the coast of California,
See CMBC the current Senior Management Team November 2014, final comment Watch this space! A review of an organisation structure should start from the top then work down to the bottom never the case at CMBC, time for change!
Quite impossible, current CMBC Senior Management but not all Councillors will say without even thinking! Following 4 years study Calderdale Guardian considers this to be more than possible, most certainly it is far from impossible!
Senior Management Annual Salary Costs will be reduced by £1.453M, bear in mind each Director requires an expensive private “office”, a PA and a secretary or two. Fewer Directors will also facilitate further efficiency improvements and savings across CMBC
See Annex A – CMBC OFFICERS MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE proposed Nov 2014
1 There can be no dispute the Leader of the Council is in charge with direct responsibility for his/her Cabinet Members each of whom has over sight, responsibility for specific council services. The Council Leader should also be responsible for administration, the council “back office”
2 The Council requires a Head of Administration it does not require a Chief Executive Officer (CEO)! In recent times the CEO was “responsible” for some but not all CMBC admin, Finance, Legal, HR, IT. In August 2013 the CEO off loaded HR and IT to the Communities Director a £5,500 pa salary increase here, but no reduction for the CEO. We believe the rationale was; the CEO is now expected or is expecting to spend significant time with the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). These are responsible for;
A FOI request revealed little evidence of the CEO’s involvement with LEPs, there is no evidence of any targets set or achievements made. The leader of the council is a formal member of the LEP anyway so how many representatives does CMBC need? Finally CMBC only needs 3 Directors so what is the “possible” value of a CEO?
3 Given an Administration Directorate CMBC’s remaining operational services logically divide into two, those involving Public Health, Social Services, and those involving Communities, Environment. Within each of these there are certain similar problems (opportunities) therefore two Operational Directorates are required, not one, not three.
4 Across the 3 Directorates we consider there will be a requirement for 9 service heads, administration 4, public health social services 3, communities’ environment 2. (When applicable the council leader could consider the Administration Director to be his/her shortcut, eyes and ears into the two operational Directorates)
Administration Services comments; initially not the most important but the most vital service head from an efficiency point of view is, will be the head of HR and IT CMBC being so far off the mark in its use of modern intergraded IT practice. After the current unfit for purpose Senior Management Structure this is the biggest problem (opportunity) CMBC has by far. Watch this Space!
All purchasing, contract negotiation and service commissioning, without exception to be centralised and then named Procurement not CPU under a professional Service Head preferably one with proven successful senior industrial procurement experience
Public Health and Social Services comment; the Public Health and Social Services Director should also be the Public Health Director or alternatively the Public and Adult Health Service Head could be given this “role / title”
General Comments; this proposal is not a complex structure change it is just a radical thinning out of a current top heavy unresponsive, inefficient management organisation
It retains a flat CMBC Senior Officer Management structure, Director Level 1, Service Head Level 2. Beneath each Service Head there will be Working Supervisors / Team Leaders Level 3. A maximum 4 or 5 for each service, but a set limit for 9 services total number not to exceed 40. Now a radical hope, intent concerning the workers, Level 4 no limit to the number of justifiable workers!
Final comments; Cabinet Members who cannot see this inherited issue and those who can but decide to do nothing about it are all equally culpable for the current top heavy unresponsive, inefficient CMBC Senior Management Organisation
This issue is not, must not become a political point scoring opportunity. It is just a large management problem the resolution of which all thinking councillors should help facilitate
Annex A – CMBC OFFICERS MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE proposed Nov 2014
Administration Service Heads
Public Health and Social Services Service Heads
Communities and Environment Service Heads
My observations suggest that men are just hardwired to believe in evolutionary psychology. I guess, millions of years ago on the African Savannah, there was an evolutionary advantage to the hunting sex being able to jump to swift, simple conclusions based on minimal data, & leave the detailed understanding to the Gathering sex who were evolving the skills for nuanced, dynamic theorisation.
Bramhall South & Woodford on Stockport (Con Defence)
Result of council at last election (2014): Liberal Democrats 28, Labour 22, Conservatives 10, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Liberal Democrats short by 4)
Result of ward at last election (2014): Conservatives 1,862 (45%), Liberal Democrats 1,373 (33%), UKIP 538 (13%), Labour 369 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: David McDonough (Green), John McGahan (Con), Jeremy Meal (Lib Dem), Kathryn Priestley (Lab)
Twenty years may seem like a lifetime in local politics and yet on the surface very little appears to have happened on Stockport during that time. The Liberal Democrats are down two, Labour are up five, the Conservatives down three and the Independents are unchanged, but that doesn’t even begin to tell half the story. By 1996, the Conservatives were on the verge of being wiped out from the council and in 1999, the Liberal Democrats gained control of the council (as they did in Sheffield and holding Liverpool that they won the previous year) but despite a loss in the millennium the Lib Dems retook control in 2002 and kept it until 2011 when the impact of the coalition started to make itself felt as the Lib Dems made six net losses and it continued with three net losses in 2012 but that appeared to come to a pause this year when the Lib Dems stayed static. With Stockport being home to both Hazel Grove and Cheadle constituencies, will the Conservatives be able to prove that they can battle their coalition allies or will UKIP seize a chance and show that they can take votes from everyone?
Uplands on Swansea (Lab Defence)
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 49, Liberal Democrats 12, Independents 6, Conservatives 4, Ratepayers 1 (Labour majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2012) : Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,302, 1,207, 1,161, 1,099 (44%)
Liberal Democrats 1,089, 975, 812, 782 (34%)
Conservatives 319, 313, 306, 301 (12%)
Green Party 614, 465 (10%)
Candidates duly nominated: Josh Allard (Con), Pat Dwan (Swansea Independents), Rhydian Fitter (Plaid), Fran Griffiths (Lab), Ronnie Job (TUSC), Peter May (Ind), Janet Thomas (Lib Dem), Ashley Wakeling (Green)
When Swansea was formed in 1995, it was as Labour a heartland as anywhere else in the South Wales valleys. In those first elections Labour polled 60% of the vote and won 57 out of the 73 councillors. Four years later Labour still won an overall majority despite losing ten seats and losing 12% in the popular vote. However, by 2004, things were starting to look dangerous for Labour as they lost control of the council (winning 32 seats) and only polled 33% of the popular vote. They were still able to govern though with thanks to the Independents but in 2008, Labour had a night to forget, because although they only lost another two seats overall, they came within 3% of losing the popular vote as the Liberal Democrats made four net gains and announced that they would seek to form an administration, this time the Independents came on board along with the sole Plaid Cymru member and for the first time since the council was formed Labour were not in charge. However by 2012, the situation was completely reversed. On a 17% swing from Liberal Democrat to Labour, Labour regained control of the council with a majority of 26 and inflicted 11 net losses onto the Liberal Democrats including all four Lib Dems in Uplands, the last seat being won from Cllr. Peter May by just 10 votes and in this by-election Peter May will be trying to regain his seat (but not as a Lib Dem, as an Independent) a pattern that was demonstrated in the 2012 local elections when nine Liberal Democrat councillors held their seats standing as Independents.
Peninsula on Medway (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result of council at last election (2011): Conservatives 35, Labour 15, Liberal Democrats 3, Independents 2 (Conservative majority of 15)
Result of ward at last election (2011) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 2,557, 2,307, 2,125
Labour 975, 898, 879
English Democrats 535, 476
Liberal Democrats 298, 282
Candidates duly nominated: Clive Gregory (Green), Christopher Irvine (UKIP), Christopher Sams (Lib Dem), Ron Sands (Con), Pete Tungate (Lab)
Rochester and Strood (UKIP defence from Con defection)
Result of constituency at last election: Conservatives 23,604 (49%), Labour 13,651 (28%), Liberal Democrats 7,800 (16%), English Democrats 2,182 (5%), Green 734 (2%)
Candidates duly nominated: Mike Barker (Ind), Christopher Challis (Ind), Hairy Knorm Davidson (Loony), Jayda Fransen (Britain First), Stephen Goldsborough (Ind), Clive Gregory (Green), Geoff Juby (Lib Dem), Naushabah Khan (Lab), Nick Long (People Before Profit), Dave Osborn (Patriotic Socialist), Mark Reckless (UKIP), Charlotte Rose (Ind), Kelly Tolhurst (Con)
UKIP will be hoping that what happened in Clacton doesn’t happen here. When Douglas Carswell defected from Con to UKIP and announced that he was standing as the UKIP candidate, the existing UKIP candidate was booted out of his post. He resigned his county seat in Brightlingsea and said “Vote Lib Dem” so whilst UKIP won the parliamentary seat, they lost the county seat. This time the district by-election is being fought as a referendum on a housing development on the Hoo (part of the same constituency) so will UKIP be able to win both the constituency and the district ward? Well, with some polls putting Mr. Reckless at least 10% ahead it does seem likely which then brings us to the next question. Will John Baron MP (Conservative, Basildon and Billericay) be next to jump ship to UKIP and if so, how many more will follow him and will they follow the examples of Mr. Carswell and Mr. Reckless or will they then announce that they are standing down from Parliament thus meaning that a by-election will not be needed.
“Couldn’t be reached” is a new web site that “will highlight instances of officials not commenting to journalists on the record.”
The Center for Public Integrity, which runs the site, explains:
It will focus on the institutions and people in power — both private and public — who refuse to comment on the record on stories in the public interest. It will be nonpartisan and apply the same high standards to its postings at the Center applies to its investigative reporting.
Initially, the site is US-centric. We hope it will become international.
(Thanks to Ivan Oransky for bringing this to our attention.)
Today is the Rochester and Strood by-election. After every by-election I see the same questions and I write essentially the same post. Given that, I thought I might as well write it before the result: whatever happens in the Rochester and Strood by-election it won’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about public opinion.
By-elections are very unusual beasts. They are fought with huge intensity and media attention, but with very little direct consequence – the government will still be the government the next day, it’s only one single seat that can change hands. They also often have unusual local circumstances – in this case a defecting member of Parliament. When a by-election behaves in line with the national polls, it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. When it behaves differently to the national polls, it’s probably because of the unique factors of by-election.
Assuming that the by-election polls from Ashcroft, ComRes and Survation are all correct and Mark Reckless wins tonight’s by-election we’ll probably see lots of comments tomorrow about UKIP doing well and being a threat to the Conservatives. I’d also expect lots of comments about how Labour didn’t win when they should have. Plus perhaps some comments about the derisory vote the Lib Dems will almost certainly get. Perhaps they’ll finish behind the Greens or even the Loonies or random independents.
To take those one at a time, UKIP are not likely to do as well nationwide in a general election as in a by-election where they have an incumbent MP, so this won’t tell us anything about their likely level of support come the general election – nor will it help answer the question of how concentrated their vote will be, and how well it will translate into returning MPs to Westminster. In terms of Labour, this is the sort of seat that an opposition doing really well in the polls and headed for a landslide win could reasonably expect to win… but we don’t need a by-election to tell us that Labour are not soaring ahead in the polls, and are not currently in a position that would translate to a landslide win. We already know that they are struggling to maintain first place in the polls and are seeing the anti-government vote split between them and other parties. As for the Liberal Democrats, the embarrassment of finishing lower than 4th place and losing their deposit is no longer anything new for them and doesn’t tell us anything new about the dire straights they find themselves in.
The other thing I invariably say after explaining how by-elections tell us virtually nothing about wider public opinion is that it doesn’t make the result any less important. A lot of politics is about the press narrative, about Westminster personalities and morale and in all those senses tonight’s result really does matter – if UKIP do really well it should keep UKIP’s momentum rolling, help them persuade voters they are a viable choice at the election. Perhaps we’ll see them get a boost in the polls from the publicity. Perhaps it will give the Conservative party’s morale a knock, perhaps encourage another defection(s) and turn the media pressure back onto David Cameron after an unpleasant few weeks for Ed Miliband. By-elections are very important – but because of their effect on the narrative, not because they really tell us much about wider public opinion.
People are screaming “censorship!” today again after a student debate was cancelled. The ridiculously named Oxford Students for Life attempted to stage a debate about abortion, with Telegraph journalist Tim Stanley arguing against and fellow Telegraph journalist Brendan O’Neill arguing for. It didn’t happen after a horde of students threatened to disrupt the debate with (presumably musical rather than gynaecological) “instruments”.
Cue manufactured outrage, with Brendan O’Neill’s article on the topic making the front page of this week’s Spectator. But what’s really going on here? Who has been silenced? Not the well paid journalists, and certainly not Brendan O’Neill who has managed to make a quick buck out of it. Not the Oxford Students for Life, who are now being discussed up and down the country. Not the feminists who protested against the debate, who have also received a media platform from which to air their views.
It is clear that the debate was calculated to offend. That’s what you do when you put Brendan O’Neill on stage, who if you don’t know is a sort of Katie Hopkins for dullards – especially when you invite the notorious misogynist to speak in favour of abortion. They might have wanted the debate to go ahead, but you can bet they wanted people to be making a noise about it. For O’Neill, this is his meat and drink, and he’s managed to churn out another lazy article drawing huge generalised conclusions out of a single incident.
What we’re actually looking at is a well functioning, democratic discourse. Something to be celebrated. Paradoxically however, the only way this discourse is maintained is by everyone running around insisting that important democratic principles have been chucked in the gutter. Let’s assume for a minute that no-one had been offended about anything in this incident. The debate would have happened, listened to by a desultory bunch of spotty Herberts, and it would never have entered the public imagination. A couple of well paid men in suits would have got to play a game for 60 minutes, that’s all. It’s bizarre that O’Neill and the Spectator’s assistant editor Isabel Hardman think that freedom of speech is really that dismal, and disregard everything else that has happened over the past couple of days as just noise. But then, this is by no means the first time that I’ve seen journalists imply that freedom of speech is a thing only to be valued when it comes to the views of professional journalists.
It is very lazy indeed, not to mention potentially dangerous, to equate protest – especially disruptive, effective protest – with state censorship. It leads you down the dangerous path, which governments are quick to encourage, that protest should be silenced. The next step is that the only people who’s views are allowed to enter the public realm are those well paid men in suits, while the noisy, dirty – and yes, sometimes idiotic – masses get their heads bashed in.
If you genuinely believe in freedom of expression, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to tolerate the fact that it works both ways. And sometimes it even inconveniences privileged men.