Graphs!

Prediction

Because I enjoy looking silly, and despite the fact that the exit polls in 15 minutes are going to be very good for the Conservatives...

A deeply hung Parliament. Conservatives literally just short of an overall majority, around the 320 seats mark (326 is an overall majority, though 323 is a functional one thanks to the absence of Sinn Fein and the neutrality of the Speaker group). Labour around 220 and Lib Dems around 90, meaning there's no yellow-red coalition on either. In my dreams, this results in Nick Clegg joining a Conservative government and the decent Lib Dems coming over to Labour. In reality I imagine it means a rubbish Tory government muddling through, in thrall to its backbenchers and the whims of Ulstermen.

We'll see how wrong I am, and I'll declare my final betting P&L, sometime over the weekend!
Simpkins

Housing

Hello. I shall repost this on Monday when people are reading, but anyway; for reasons wholly unrelated to the fact that I am impossible to live with (viz a new job in a different country), I will shortly be looking for a new flatmate. I'm likely, though not certain, also to want to move myself over the course of the Summer, so happy to offer a slightly lower rent to someone who is prepared to be on a month's notice, but if someone wanted to commit to a fixed term, then so could I.

That aside it would be about £700 a month including bills, for which you get a decent sized double room with loads of cupboard space in a 2-bed flat with your own bathroom, a very large living room, and a well equipped open kitchen including dishwasher and lots of freezer space.

The postcode is SE16 3TP which is Zone 2, reasonably handy for Bermondsey Tube or a range of buses, and very handy for the 1 to Waterloo / Elephant / Tottenham Court Road. What else? I'm unfussy about gender or diet, and don't mind nationality as long as people speak a reasonable level of English or, at a push, French, but I am quite fussy about keeping the flat non-smoking.
Simpkins

How to get an olive branch thrown back in your face

Politics intrudes. Sorry, it's that time of the election cycle. Anyway Professor Jonathan Rutherford (more of him later, but he's relevant) says the following on Labourlist today;

Whatever its current state, Labour is central to the progressive future and it needs to begin a process of democratic renewal both within its own organisation and by involving a broad range of progressive social and political movements in rebuilding a centre left coalition.

There are tens of thousands of members of the Labour Party, Green Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the SNP, along with progressive people in no party, who are prepared to discuss this kind of coalition politics. Social Democrats, Social Liberals and Greens have some fundamental political aims in common.

"After the Crash" is intended to help begin this conversation. The leading political contributors to this ebook represent different traditions, yet they share the common aim of equality. Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party writes: "the sustainability agenda and the equalities agenda are one and the same". Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions believes that: "if society is unequal, the individual is not free". Jon Cruddas argues against sectarian politics: "It is wrong to think of socialism as a tradition that stands in opposition to liberalism."

Whatever the result of the next general election, we need to create a common ground for a progressive coalition of ideas and action. Without this coalition the political agenda will remain unchallenged and there will be no deep rooted hinterland of support to sustain a future progressive government.
Nick Clegg MP, in the Spectator tomorrow, says something quite different.

‘I like to think that Conservative voters who feel there is something flakey about the Cameron-Osborne leadership might feel there is a consistency and conviction in my leadership. I do understand that they feel it’s their turn, that they feel a sense of entitlement. But what has surprised me is this ideological vacuum at the heart of the Conservatives.’

Each year, the government is borrowing £180 billion. Mr Clegg thinks that, once the economy recovers, the gap will be ‘to the tune of £80 billion or so’. So how do you fill this gap? Labour would do so with one third tax rises and two thirds cuts. The Tories would have one fifth tax rises. But Mr Clegg says the Lib Dems are the most radical of the lot: they propose no tax rises at all. ‘We’re saying “purely spending cuts”, and for a number of reasons. If you want the economy to grow, you must stimulate demand. Any economist will tell you that the best way to do this is by giving tax breaks to the people who tend to spend more of their money they receive.

Age, he claims, has taught him the point of Lady Thatcher. And, indeed, he now seems to see her as something of an inspiration. ‘I’m 43 now. I was at university at the height of the Thatcher revolution and I recognise now something I did not at the time: that her victory over a vested interest, the trade unions, was immensely significant.
For the terminally interested, After The Crash is downloadable here.

Just for the sake of completeness, since Nick Clegg feels the need to justify his claims with the appeal to anonymous sources that is "any economist will tell you", here is an explanation of why he is wrong, by Professor James D. Hamilton of the Economics Department at the University of California, and Professor Menzie Chinn, Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin, based on work by Dr Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics - and a former McCain adviser.

So well done Nick Clegg, you're now to the economic right of the US Republican mainstream. Here is the same point being made by Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Paul Krugman. Of course it may be that the quotes have been misattributed, in which case I'm sure clarification will follow swiftly.
Simpkins

Still crazy after all these years

The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

Calling it "basically no more than five rectangular strips of paper," Fed chairman Ben Bernanke illustrates how much "$200" is actually worth.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world's largest economy.

"Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we…if we…" said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. "You know what? It doesn't matter. None of this—this so-called 'money'—really matters at all."

"It's just an illusion," a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. "Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless."

According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, "Oh my God, he's right. It's all a mirage. All of it—the money, our whole economy—it's all a lie!"

Screams then filled the Senate Chamber as lawmakers and members of the press ran for the exits, leaving in their wake aisles littered with the remains of torn currency. U.S. markets closed as traders left their jobs and resolved for once to do or make something, anything of real value.

As news of the nation's collectively held delusion spread, the economy ground to a halt, with dumbfounded citizens everywhere walking out on their jobs as they contemplated the little green drawings of buildings and dead white men they once used to measure their adequacy and importance as human beings.

At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning's opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above.

"I've spent 25 years in this room yelling 'Buy, buy! Sell, sell!' and for what?" longtime trader Michael Palermo said. "All I've done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth."

"What a cruel cosmic joke," he added. "I'm going home to hug my daughter."

Sources at the White House said President Obama was "still trying to get his head around all this" and was in seclusion with his coin collection, muttering "it's just metal, it's just metal" over and over again. "The president will be making a statement very soon," press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. "At the moment, though, his mind is just too blown to comment."

A few U.S. banks have remained open, though most teller windows are unmanned due to a lack of interest in transactions involving mere scraps of paper or, worse, decimal points and computer data signifying mere scraps of paper. At a Bank of America branch in Spokane, WA, curious former customers wandered aimlessly through a large empty vault, while several would-be robbers of a Chase bank in Columbus, OH reportedly put their guns down and exited the building hand in hand with security guards, laughing over the inherent absurdity of the idea of $100 bills.

Likewise, the real estate industry has all but vanished, with mortgage lenders seeing no reason to stop people from reclaiming their foreclosed-upon homes.
"I don't even know what we were thinking in the first place," said former banker Nathan Collins of Brandon, MS, as he jimmyed open a door to allow a single mother and her five children to move back into their house. "A bunch of people sign a bunch of papers, and now this family has no place to live? That's just plain ludicrous."

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/u_s_economy_grinds_to_halt_as
Simpkins

This isn't in English, is it?

I need a sub, and not in a rude way. I don't really want to break the paragraph, and the jumble of numbers and numberwords isn't helping.

Despite widespread pessimism about achieving equal representation, there has been substantial progress in the number of women represented in the House of Commons over the last two decades. After 40 years after the second world war during which there were between 20 and 30 women in the House of Commons, a low point of 19 was reached in 1983, largely because the Conservative landslide saw seven female Labour MPs lose their seats, but only one Conservative gain by a female candidate. Since then there has been relatively rapid progress - 41 women MPs in 1987, 60 in 1992, and 120 in 1997. This number fell only slightly in 2001 to 118, largely as a consequence of Labour being prevented from using all women shortlists to select candidates, and rose again to a new high of 128 at the 2005 election. While the 2010 election sees many women MPs at risk from a rising Conservative tide (77% of female MPs are Labour MPs, whereas only 13% are Conservatives) there are more Conservative female candidates in ‘winnable’ seats than at past elections, with estimates that a Conservative overall majority would deliver an extra 38 Conservative women MPs.
Simpkins

Today

Dramatis personæ: My boss, my events admin, my office manager, myself, and, without a speaking part, my policy support dude and my deputy boss.

The venue: A dim sum restaurant, for said events admin's leaving lunch. We shall miss her, but she is going to far better things.

Boss: Goodness, it doesn't feel like three years since we interviewed you.
Eventy: I know, time flies, doesn't it!
Boss: Was it me and Kelly that interviewed you? It must have been.
Eventy: Yeah, I think so.
Office Manager: Yeah it must have been, because if it had been me you wouldn't have got it.
All: Laughter
jdc: And if it had been me, you wouldn't have accepted it!
All: Laugh more loudly, yet also rather nervously
Ghost, stage left: It's funny because it's true
  • Current Mood
    Miscellaneous
Simpkins

HTC

I realise This is a very specific circumstances, but just in case anyone is upgrading from an HTC phone on Windows Mobile, to an HTC Android phone, don't even think about using the Sync applications to get your contacts across, at least if you are on Windows 7 - and certainly don't try and use their recommended Sim backup (as expected, it truncates everything).

Instead, clear down your 'My Contacts' in a Gmail account, export your old contacts as a Windows .csv from Outlook, upload them to your Gmail with the importer tool, then set up the new phone to synchronise with your Gmail account. Voila! Now if only I'd realised that was the quick way three hours ago, I could be in bed by now. And even that's assuming it has done what it claimed to be doing, and done it correctly...
Simpkins

My execrable taste in "stuff"

Or, two things about augstone.

Thing the first, over the Christmas-NewYear interval Aug saw fit to post "our songs of aching romance" aka THE MOST MISERABLIST spotify playlist I have ever had the misfortune to hear. It has taken me until now to respond to it, and the further prompting of absinthecity, so here is cheerthefvckup (spotify direct link). It's a little bit silly, but only a little bit.

Far more importantly, sitcom pilot "the Oxford Dons", full and uncut (ironically unlike Aug) is available on funnyordie. Since it is very funny, and I don't want anyone to die, I'd suggest you watch it, and rate it accordingly. Here you go.
Simpkins

Moody day

Dear Gemma,

In reference to your recent letter, the reason your attempt to extract a premium of £268.14 failed on 25 October is that my health insurance was bought for me as a quixotic but well-meant gift by my parents last year, and therefore the card and address details will not match. Had you given advance notice of your attempt to take this payment, I could have told you this.

More importantly, I have no intention of renewing the policy in question - having discovered in your representative's own words when I needed to call on it that it was "all inclusive, except for consultation, diagnosis, and treatment" which appears to me to be very nearly everything one might require from healthcare.

I would be grateful if you could note this, and look forward to not hearing from you in the future.

Best wishes,

John