[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by MikeSmithson

And the parodies have already started

So far, at least betting interest has been minimal

Four and a half weeks to go now till the national election that could see the purples top the polls. Yet, as I have observed before, the May 22nd Euros have failed to attract all but nominal betting interest.

On Betfair, where things like this are recorded and updated all the time the two Euro elections markets there’s been a total of £23,000 in matched bets in the two markets it has on offer.

On the posters I agree with Iain Martin’s Tweet – this is not about what’s on the actual bill-boards but the attendant publicity that can be generated.

The ongoing ban on election TV advertising in the UK continues to put a massive dampener on campaigns.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Book review: Battle for Bittora, by Anuja Chauhan

Monday, April 21st, 2014 02:02 pm
rmc28: (books2010)
[personal profile] rmc28
Battle for Bittora is the second book by Anuja Chauhan and I enjoyed it even more than The Zoya Factor.  First because I am a much bigger fan of politics than I am of cricket, and second because I think the writing and plotting have both improved. 

Jinni is a computer animator, designing cartoon germs for toilet cleaner adverts.  She is also the granddaughter of two famous politicians, and when her grandmother comes to ask her to come and campaign for the parliamentary elections, Jinni finds it hard to refuse.

"Oh, I do realise, being grown up now, that it is gruelling and chaotic and horribly stressful, and hearbreaking and possibly heart-attack inducing.  But I also know that the only thing worse than taking part in a Lok Sabha election is not taking part in a Lok Sabha election."

Yep, that sounds familiar. 

Jinni agrees to go and help campaign for her grandmother Pushpa Pande, but then discovers that the party top management want her to fight the seat instead.  And her opponent will be her childhood best friend Zain, descended from the area's former royal family.

What follows is a gripping account of an Indian election campaign.  Now, my knowledge of Indian politics is what I have picked up from reading the Economist.  Even so, I recognise the two very thinly-veiled parties that Jinni and Zain represent.   Some parts of campaigning are familiar to my UK experience (door-knocking, public meetings, attending important local events, dealing with the press, the importance of polling, the need to know where a toilet is at all times) and some are startlingly different (the constituency size, the length of journeys, the atmosphere of meetings, the number of parties, the grinding poverty, the importance of caste, the bribery and financial irregularity). 

The contest between Zain and Jinni rather pointedly puts inherited privilege of one kind (former royal family) up against another (political family).   One of Jinni's support team, Munni, is clearly the better politician - but from a poor family without a famous grandmother, and she rightly gets furious when Jinni makes a big mistake that may waste most of Munni's (and Pushpa's) efforts.  Jinni's friend from work, Rumi, drops in and draws attention to the "poverty tourism" side of Jinni just dropping in on this rural state from her nice job in the capital.  Jinni herself means well, but all too often gets caught up in the Need To Win, though she does also start asking awkward questions, and in one case take personal direct action against something awful.

Overall I do appreciate the way the book sets up stereotypes and then shows It's More Complicated Than That, and does it all with the same humour and exuberance as I loved in The Zoya Factor.  And I would love to see the Enforcer 49 comics, as drawn and written by teenage Zain and Jinni. 

Especially touching is the photograph in the end of the author's notes at the back, of her real-life relatives who inspired the story, the first couple to be elected to India's parliament.

I remain indebted to [personal profile] deepad for introducing me to Anita Chauhan, and to her Anita Chauhan Reading Club for the opportunity to read Battle for Bittora.

The evasive shareholder meeting manoeuvre

Monday, April 21st, 2014 12:31 pm
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Martin Gardiner

“When companies move their annual meetings a great distance from headquarters, they tend to announce disappointing earnings results and experience pronounced stock market underperformance in the months after the meeting. Companies appear to schedule meetings in remote locations when the managers have private, adverse information about future performance and wish to discourage scrutiny by shareholders, activists, and the media. However, shareholders do not appear to decode this signal, since the disclosure of meeting locations leads to little immediate stock price reaction.”

Prof_LiProf_YermackThis previously under-researched business tactic is (un)covered in a new NBER research paper from Lily Yuanzhi Li, [left] currently Assistant Professor of Finance at the Temple University Fox School of Business, Philadelphia, and David L. Yermack, [right] who is the Albert Fingerhut Professor of Finance and Business Transformation at the Leonard Norman Stern School of Business, New York University.

But how remote is remote? The authors give an example :

“As an example of a meeting held at a remote location, TRW Automotive Holdings, an auto parts manufacturer with a market capitalization of about $4 billion, convened its May 14, 2007, annual meeting at the Renaissance Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen TX, at the Southern tip of the continental United States near the Mexican border. The meeting took place almost 1,400 miles from the company’s headquarters outside Detroit, and more than 300 miles from the nearest major airport, Houston.”

And there are even more far flung instances :

“One company, General Cable Corp., has a Kentucky headquarters but held its annual meetings in Spain, Costa Rica, and Germany at different times during our sample period.”

The full paper can be read here : Evasive shareholder meetings (NBER Working Paper No. 19991, issued in March 2014)

Interesting Links for 21-04-2014

Monday, April 21st, 2014 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

(no subject)

Monday, April 21st, 2014 05:26 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
[syndicated profile] peter_black_am_feed
More woes for Ed Miliband in yesterday's Independent on Sunday with  a statement by former Labour minister, Barbara Roche that he needs to find the “courage” to take on the threat from Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party directly, or risk a setback for his party at next month’s European elections.

Ms. Roche, who is chair of the Migration Matters Trust and a minister in Tony Blair’s government, writes that Mr Farage has become “Labour’s Voldemort – he whose name cannot be mentioned” because Mr Miliband doesn’t want to tackle Ukip on immigration:

She believes it is a “tragedy” for Labour that the only British politician who has had the “courage” to take on Ukip is Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. While the Deputy Prime Minister was trounced in his two debates with Mr Farage, at least he had been “prepared to fight” for what he believed in, Ms Roche says. She advises Mr Miliband to make a positive, progressive case for immigration and acknowledge the benefits that migrants bring to Britain.

Barbara Roche's challenge is particularly pertinent gven the news in today's Times that a Ukip poster campaign for the European elections will contain stark warnings about the impact of EU immigration. One reads: “26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose job are they after?”

The paper says that the adverts triggered instant controversy, drawing accusations of scare-mongering and that some have compared them to previous campaigns used by the far-right British National Party.  

So far only Nick Clegg has put his head above the parapet to challenge these assertions. Where are the leaders of the other two parties?

The Blood is The Life 21-04-2014

Monday, April 21st, 2014 10:00 am

oh my goodness, internet, you're fired

Monday, April 21st, 2014 04:29 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Why did nobody tell me until just now that Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer are starring in a HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart? OMG.

(no subject)

Monday, April 21st, 2014 02:00 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Cat, there is no way that can be comfortable. (she's draped half over my knee, half on the desk, sound asleep and snoring a little.)
Read more... )

On the other side

Monday, April 21st, 2014 07:50 am
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
We got a phone call yesterday evening to say that my sister-in-law Lucy had gone into labour.  7 weeks early and while on holiday visiting her dad in France.  They'd got her to hospital in Dijon (which is *not* a trivial journey from where they were staying) and though obviously it was early, the hospital is a good university hospital, and she had family with her.

So we couldn't do much but wait and try not to worry too much.  Dijon is at least 7 hours from here, however one travels, and Lucy is well-provided with people to support her.

In the early hours I got another call, to say that my nibling was safely arrived ("born crying") and all seemed to be well, at least for now.

Meanwhile my two woke me at their usual horribly early hour, and N has a cough and C has school tomorrow.  We await a name for their new cousin, but in the meantime Mustard seems an appropriate nickname.
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Marc Abrahams

The bombardier beetle’s violent method self-defence can now be applied to defending bank cash machines, as explained in this study be researchers at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland:

Self-defending anti-vandalism surfaces based on mechanically triggered mixing of reactants in polymer foils,” Jonas G. Halter, Nicholas H. Cohrs, Nora Hild, Daniela Paunescu, Robert N. Grass and Wendelin Jan Stark (pictured here), Journal of Materials Chemistry A, epub March 17, 2014. (Thanks to May Berenbaum for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:

Prof_Stark_ETH_Zurich“The bombardier beetle uses attack-triggered mixing of reactants (hydrochinone, hydrogen peroxide H2O2 and enzymes as catalysts) to defend itself against predators. Using multi-layer polymer sheets with H2O2 and catalyst (MnO2) filled compartments we developed a 2D analogous bio-inspired chemical defence mechanism for anti-vandalism applications. The reactants were separated by a brittle layer that ruptures upon mechanical attack, and converts the mechanical energy trigger (usually a few Joules) into a chemical self-defence reaction involving release of steam, and optionally persistent dyes and a DNA-based marker for forensics. These surfaces effectively translate a weak mechanical trigger into an energetic chemical reaction with energy amplification of several orders of magnitude. Since the responsive materials presented here do not depend on electricity, they may provide a cost effective alternative to currently used safety systems in the public domain, automatic teller machines and protection of money transport systems.”

Here are details from the study (and here’s a press release from the university):

beetled-tests

beetle-method-on-card

BONUS: Video of a bombarder beetle in action:

BONUS (related, though not in a relevantly meaningful way): The strange tale of the strange tale Bomby the Bombardier Beetle

 

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by MikeSmithson

BBC NEWS   Election 2010   Results   Scotland

Following the weekend’s ICM Scottish poll people have begun to look more closely at what the impact in a general election might be if the 59 Scottish MPs were removed.

    Clearly GE2015 will take place as planned but the above chart has been produced to make a general point – LAB would find it harder to win general elections without Scotland but this can be overestimated.

The table above sets out key numbers. The House of Commons based on the 2010 boundaries would be reduced from 650 MPs to 591 while LAB would see its contingent cut by 41, the LDs by 11, SNP by 6, and the Tories by one.

The overall reduction of seats would reduce the threshold required for an overall majority from 326 to 296. So the GE2010 result without Scotland would have been 306 CON seats to 290 non-CON seats, a Tory majority of 16. No need, therefore, for the coalition.

With Scottish MPs in place Labour would need to make 68 gains in May next year to secure a majority. Without Scotland that would be increased to 80.

That is still a big challenge but the total required is fewer than the 100 gains that the Tories made at GE2010.

A REMINDER. The next Dirty Dicks (opposite Liverpool Street station in London) gathering will be at 6.30pm on Friday May 2. An event for Yorkshire and the north is planned for Ilkley on Monday July 7th

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Perfume sniff notes! 9 BPAL scents: Rogue, The Rose, Dragon's Tears, Bastet, Tzadikim Nistarim, Sea of Glass, Djinn, Euphrosyne, Omen.

9 scent reviews )

April mini-AIR: Joints, bones, and pitted pebbles

Monday, April 21st, 2014 12:23 am
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Marc Abrahams

The April issue of mini-AIR (our monthly e-mail newsletter just went out. (mini-AIR is a wee little supplement to the magazine). Topics include:

  • How Many Joints?
  • Ig Nobel Eurotour Thanks, and Next Year
  • Green: Thumb Injury Limerick Competition
  • Salamander 5th Toe Loss
  • and more
It also has info about upcoming events.

Mel [pictured here] says, “It’s swell.”

mini-AIR is the simplest way to keep informed about Improbable and Ig Nobel news and events.

Want to have mini-AIR e-mailed to you every month? Just add yourself to the mini-AIR list.

Yes, more fic, shut up.

Monday, April 21st, 2014 02:17 am
nostalgia: (eleven/idris zomg)
[personal profile] nostalgia
I don't know when I started this one, but it's finished now, and it's Doctor/TARDIS and she's a woman and they kiss. Yeah, hold onto your pants, I'm bringing Sexy back!


'Do you think it's cute or weird?' )

About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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