bookmark_borderTricolour Britain and the fallacy of British opinion polls

Fraser Nelson has written two articles, one in The Telegraph and one in the Spectator Coffee House, about the way the UK is disintegrating politically.

It’s of course old news that the SNP are dominating Scotland politically, but England is also increasingly separating into areas that are very different politically — basically, Labour are big in the north of England and in London, the LibDems are big in the southwest, and the Tories are big elsewhere.

Although he doesn’t mention it, this is really creating problems for opinion polls. Their value depends on their usefulness, which again is derived from the assumption that if a party gains five points in the opinion polls, it’s likely to to get more seats in the next election. However, it’s entirely possible for a party to gain more votes in their heartland without gaining any more seats; indeed, if the votes gained “at home” are offset by lost votes in alien territories, the net effect could be a loss of seats.

I’ve long been arguing that opinion polls should treat England and Scotland separately, but I’m starting to wonder whether they also need to split up England.

PS: I’ve no idea why he’s calling it tricolour when the map clearly has four colours. Perhaps he’s already mentally accepted Scottish independence! 🙂

(You might also want to have a look at this old blog posting of mine.)

bookmark_borderChocolate printer

I guess it was only a question of time before somebody would modify a normal 3D printer to print using chocolate:

It looks like a fun machine, but I’m a bit disappointed by the chocolate designs created in this video — why do they just print boxes and letters if the machine could just as well print an accurate copy of the Eiffel Tower?

bookmark_borderBuchwider Bräu β₁

Buchwider Bräu ??
Originally uploaded by viralbus

My first attempt at brewing in Scotland (Buchwider Bräu ??) was a decent German-style wheat beer.

I’ve now tried to brew a Belgian-style one, imaginatively called Buchwider Bräu ??.

It’s brewed with equal amounts of wheat malt and Belgian pale malt, and it’s flavoured with orange peel, grated ginger and coriander seeds. (I was hoping to get close to my favourite witbier, the famous Korenwolf.)

The ginger is relatively prominent, and the orange is noticeable, but I must admit I find it hard to detect the coriander.

I actually think it’s quite a nice beer, although I think it’s better with food than for drinking on its own. I don’t think it’s that close to a Korenwolf, though, so I’ll have to try again another time. Has anybody got a Korenwolf-style recipe?

My next project is a German Maibock. I’ve got the ingredients, but I need to empty some bottles before I can start. 🙂

bookmark_borderMichael Ignatieff on Scottish Independence

I don’t seem to be able to embed this, but it’s essential viewing for anybody interested in Scottish independence.

It’s an interview with Michael Ignatieff, the former leader of the Liberal party of Canada.

It’s neither for nor against independence, but he’s making some apt comparisons with Canada and Quebec.

bookmark_borderDandelion puller

We’ve had a dandelion (mælkebøtte in Danish) problem for years. Phyllis has spent countless hours pulling them up by hand, which is a backbreaking and thankless task.

A couple of days ago I then ordered a weed puller from Amazon, and it arrived today.

I was a wee bit doubtful that it would really be worth the money, but it’s great! It pulls up a dandelion within a couple of seconds, and often with the entire root attached.

Parts of it are made of plastic, but it looks reasonably sturdy, so I would definitely recommend this tool to all gardeners!

bookmark_borderUnderliggende geminerede konsonanter på dansk

1974 Three Little Soldiers
Originally uploaded by JD Hancock

Jeg erindrer ikke nogensinde at have set emnet nævnt i fonetikbøgerne på lingvistikstudiet i Århus i 1990erne, men jeg er begyndt at blive bevidst om, at jeg rutinemæssigt producerer geminerede konsonanter, når jeg synger på dansk.

Hvis jeg fx synger Tre små soldater, synger jeg linien Lille soldat som [lil?? sold?æ?d?], ikke som [li?l? sold?æ?d?]. Jeg vil dog ikke mene, sidstnævnte udtale er umulig, blot at den forekommer mig mindre naturlig.

Derudover har jeg bemærket, at jeg også producerer geminerede konsonanter i bestemte andre sammenhænge. For eksempel udtaler jeg normalt Lille Anna som [?lil? ?ænæ], men hvis hun har slået sig, og jeg skal trøste hende, virker det mere naturligt at sige [?lil?? ?æn?æ].

Kan evt. dansksprogede, der læser dette, bekræfte, at I også geminerer konsonanter under visse forudsætninger? Og har I set det beskrevet nogetsteds?

Hvis vi antager, at disse geminerede konsonanter er en del af dansk udtale, leder det naturligt til spørgsmålet, om et ord som lille underliggende er [?lil?] (hvilket betyder, at konsonanter nogle gange forlænges fonetisk efter kort trykstærk vokal) eller [?lil??] (hvilket betyder, at geminerede konsonanter reduceres i de fleste sammenhænge).

Jeg véd ikke, hvad svaret er, men hvis man vælger sidstnævnte analyse, får det dansk til underliggende at ligne norsk og svensk mere, end man umiddelbart skulle tro.

bookmark_borderFree open-air gyms

Originally uploaded by PhylB

Gyms are generally priced in a way that makes sense if you visit them several times a week, but if you like me just want to do fifteen minutes once a week, they’re horribly overpriced.

I spent the past week in Paris (or rather, Champs sur Marne) with Phyllis, Marcel, Charlotte, Léon, Anna and Amaia; I was working the entire week at a local company while Phyllis dragged the kids round Paris.

One day we noticed a tiny open-air gym on our way to the RER station.

It was tiny — just four machines — and made in cast iron painted yellow and green (see the photo).

For real gym aficionados, it would be useless, but I wish East Renfrewshire would put up equipment like this in our parks — I’m sure it’d be good for the general health and well-being!