bookmark_borderPredictions for 2013

Originally uploaded by Paolo Dallorso

After two years of really bad predictions, I was going to follow my dear wife’s advice and make predictions with a decent chance of success. However, sometimes it’s more fun to predict slightly less probable events, so here’s my list for 2013:

  1. At least one of Scotland’s unionist parties will change their leader.
  2. It will finally become possible to obtain dual citizenship in Denmark.
  3. One more country will join Scotland and Catalunya in planning an independence referendum for 2014.
  4. The CDU/CSU will continue to be the largest political grouping in the German Bundestag after the election.
  5. The Eurozone will survive another year (although Greece and Spain in particular will continue to suffer).
  6. Facebook will continue to be the most popular social networking site.
  7. The kids won’t get any opportunity to use their sledges or build an igloo in Newton Mearns.
  8. England will join Scotland and Denmark in not qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  9. Rangers FC will collapse again.
  10. The UK won’t win the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö.

bookmark_borderMy predictions for 2012 :-(

Sad Face Cone Head Bath
Originally uploaded by Edgar Sousa

I guess it’s time to evaluate my predictions for 2012:

  1. The referendum on Scottish independence won’t take place yet. Right.
  2. SF will leave the Danish government. Wrong, but they changed their leader.
  3. It will again become possible to get a Danish passport in Scotland. Well, not for adults, but small children can now again get it here as far as I know.
  4. The euro will not collapse – all current members will remain inside the Eurozone. Right.
  5. The British inflation rate (measured by CPI) will not fall below 4%. Wrong — it fell as low as 2.2% before rising again.
  6. UEFA 2012 will be won by the Netherlands. Wrong.
  7. After a year with record-breaking levels of rain, Scotland will enjoy its second-warmest year ever. Wrong; Scotland had a very warm March, but not in general a very warm year, and although it has been the wettest year ever in England, Scotland hasn’t been quite as exceptional.
  8. The Icelandic volcano Katla will erupt and cause a new flight ban over Europe. Wrong.
  9. The Russian government will be forced to step down and call fresh elections. Wrong.
  10. The Eurovision Song Contest will be won by Georgia.Wrong.

So, about 2 1/2 out of 10. 🙁

I’m afraid that Troels — who predicted “the negation of each individual statement” — produced a more accurate forecast.

bookmark_borderJulie & Julia

I’ve just finished watching the most amazing film together with Phyllis and Charlotte.

It’s about cooking and blogging, so it’s no wonder that it tickled our fancy (well, my dear wife’s and mine, but even Charlotte seemed to enjoy it).

It’s about a 30-year-old New Yorker, Julie, who decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook (available in two volumes, one and two) and blog about the experience. Simultaneously, we are following Julia Child’s life in Paris, her culinary education and the process of writing her cookbook.

It’s a great movie, and I just wish I had been the first person to get the idea to blog every single recipe in a famous cookbook.

Given that I must own at least a hundred cookbooks, would there be any merit in blogging a random recipe every single days for the next thousand and one nights?

bookmark_borderThe safe seats of the US House of Representatives

The distribution of different types of seats over the past six elections.
I’ve moaned about American politics before, but I don’t think I had any statistics to back me up last time.

However, Nate Silver has written an excellent article on Five Thirty Eight about the the development of ultra-safe, strongly partisan seats in the House of Representatives. He writes: “As these figures make clear, the number of swing districts has been on a steady decline since at least 1992, and the number of landslide districts on a steady rise.”

I think the obvious solution would be to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians, but for some bizarre reason this doesn’t always seem to appeal to Americans.

bookmark_borderBuchwider Bräu θ₁ – Merry Christmas!

Buchwider Bräu ??
Originally uploaded by viralbus

I decided to brew a Christmas beer this year. It’s a Belgian-style beer, somewhere between a dubbel and a trippel, with added cinnamon.

I measured the alcohol contents to 7.2%, but I wonder whether I made a error — it definitely gets you drunk very quickly indeed!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all the readers of this blog!

bookmark_borderBuchwider Bräu η₁

Buchwider Bräu ??
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Although I bottled my ?? two months ago, I haven’t blogged it till now because its beautiful reddish colour never showed up in the photos I took of it. (The trick turned out to be to use a tripod and no flash, of course.)

Anyway, ?? is a rye beer, brewed in the style of a German Weißbier with the addition of crystal rye malt (to be precise, I used 400 g pearl malt, 2000 g Munich malt, 1600 g wheat malt and 1000 g crystal rye malt).

It’s quite an interesting beer, surprisingly light and with a hint of Danish rye bread.

Unfortunately I used too much priming sugar, so you need to be careful when opening it!

bookmark_borderLondon vs. England

The release of data from the 2011 census in England and Wales makes for interesting reading. (Scotland’s census won’t release any equivalent data until some time next year.)

One thing I found very interesting is how different London is. It’s not immediately obvious when you read the bulletins how big this difference is, because they haven’t published the data for England and Wales without London. However, it’s a relatively simple calculation to work this out, so here are a few of the statistical indicators, showing first London, then England and Wales without London, and then England and Wales including London. (I was thinking about excluding Wales from the table, but it was easier to leave it in, and most of the time Wales didn’t seem to be too different from non-London England.)

London Rest of England & Wales Combined
Population 8,174 47,902 56,076
Population density 5200/km2 321/km2 407/km2
Age 65+ 11.1% (-1.2%) 17.4% (+0.9%) 16.4% (+0.5%)
White 59.8% 90.5% 86.0%
Asian 18.5% 5.6% 7.5%
Black 13.3% 1.6% 3.3%
English or Welsh national identity 44.3% 76.0% 71.4%
British national identity 38.3% 27.5% 29.1%
Other national identity 26.4% 7.0% 9.8%
Living in detached house 6.2% 25.4% 22.6%
Living in semi-detached 18.6% 32.8% 30.7%
Living in flat 37.6% 12.7% 16.3%
Average no. of cars per household 0.8 1.3 1.2

London is a wonderful city, and part of its charm is that it’s a truly global city.

What is important is for Londoners to realise that they’re living in a place that is very different from the rest of England and the UK. For instance, Westminster politicians have to be careful not to propose policies based on what would work in the neighbourhood they live in when they’re in London.

Also, one should seriously consider making London independent (or at least a devolved nation inside the UK).