Saturday, 23 March 2019

voting models explained (without the B word)

Multiple attempts at moving target.

No option but to obey.

Shouty chaotic diffusion.

Populist cat (but notice the hidden wolf).

Friday, 22 March 2019

Hollywood Tower of Terror

Since you asked.

we are all just prisoners here, of our own device

People keep saying "To be clear, though" when talking about current affairs. I can't say that I'm always following their line(s) of thinking.

There's an element of grasping at straws as some of these last minute ideas are tabled. Mrs May has locked down everything so that adjustments to the Withdrawal Agreement inspire fantasy. Here's a clutch of the latest...

It's all dependent upon how such a series of votes would be stage-managed and whether there would be transferrable voting as options are eliminated.

Kind of evolutionary game theory without any hyper-rational agents. In the prisoners' dilemma, at least there's a set of predictable behaviours.

For us, the Eagle's Hotel California is almost the safe option. Right now it's more like the Hollywood Tower of Terror, with the floor about to unpredictably send us off into some kind of Twilight Zone.

Eagle eyed can spot me in the orange tee-shirt.

small fact check

I noticed some of the sensationalist journalists looking at the petition database and making comments about the degree of hacking occurring.

Some lazy reporters have see a screen print of the .json file which lists the countries before the UK constituencies and drawn a scurrilous conclusion that most of the voting is overseas and faked by bots.

I decided to have a look for myself.

Download the latest .json of the results.
Grep it into a CSV suitable format to drop it into Excel
Run a couple of quick sorts.

Most noticeably, the non-UK portion is under 4%. That includes other nationalities from where you'd expect to see votes. France, Spain and USA are the top 3. 227 countries in total, but after the top 10 or so no-where more than about 1000, and a rapid drop into double digit numbers.

Here's the sorted data:

And yes, I know my total is lower than the current petition, but it was the most current .json when I downloaded it.

Just 3,295,009 votes, with 124,082 (3.78%) from non-UK nationals.

In my opinion, after some fact checking.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

panic at the puppet show

With both the main party leaders out of the country today, it was interesting to watch two UK events. The squabbling of disenchanted MPs has intensified with the Bercow Blocker and Mrs May's slight from yesterday receiving attention.

Additionally, the populous is revolting. Admittedly on a small scale at the moment. The petition to #revoke Article 50 has gone up on the government petitions website. It would need 100,000 signatures to get a Parliamentary debate.

By lunchtime it's already around 850,000 and still climbing at around 1000 per minute. Maybe if media picks it up there will be a spike, although the government's petition site keeps crashing anyway.

Panic at the saloon/disco/palace/petition/puppet-show?

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

yikes. big trouble.

Donald Tusk has said any extension to Brexit will depend on the UK approving its draft withdrawal deal. We can see that castigating blame games are being introduced. Phrases like 'The House', as if 'The House' has created the current situation. Craven.

It wasn't the House. It's a group of people scrapping for power and placing power and party over country and people. They are self righteously citing 'will of the people' as a blunt instrument to drive their own tawdry agendas.

Even today the letter sent to the EU was a tactician's grab. Box everyone into a corner, where it becomes about 'my way or the highway'.

This particular highway is a pretty low road, but the 3 Bs of bludgeoning, blackmailing and bribing Parliament to 'meaningfully' vote for the unchanged Withdrawal Agreement is still the plan. Meaningful Vote 3 just about exemplifies the doublespeak.

Tusk has played a decent hand, saying it's too late to discuss Brexit at this week's EU27 summit (of course they will), and that any extension is contingent upon an agreed Withdrawal Agreement from UK Parliament.

It could force the Parliament vote to revert to May's deal or crash out. Disaster or Catastrophe? I'll still say #revoke Article 50 is a better option although apparently that's not the will of the badly lied to people. Lets see what the Prime Minister does at 20:15.

My take is that revoking Article 50 would unplug the ticking clock from a failed project - then brace to elect some new MEPs and decide whet the UK really needs to do. Not least is the need to fix itself.

For example, how about a Plan? a review of the lessons learned? the possibility of proactive representation in Europe instead of saboteur led heckling? a recheck of the will of the people now that it is clearer what Brexit implies. Where have all the statesmen and stateswomen gone?

It won't happen whilst May or the shady Right still have a fingerhold. They see too much candy in the trough.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

quick iPhone photography assessment

About a couple of months ago I started my experiment to use the iPhone for taking my snapshots, instead of a DSLR. I haven't completely followed the process, but I'd guess that 95% of my pictures over the last two months were from the phone.

I should position it that I've used the iPhone more or less when I'd use a non-zoomed compact camera in the past. My mental model is a 35mm Olympus Trip, although that's probably too ancient for many people to recognise.

Something more recent would be a Fuji X100 or similar fixed lens camera. The iPhone does have a zoom range of around 10x, but it is purely electronic so all I'm really doing if I use it is enlarging the middle of the resolution and spreading it over more pixels.

What do I think?

  • The iPhone works very well for medium to well-lit pictures. As jpegs they are well-defined, crisp and detailed.
  • I know about many short cuts to fire up the camera quickly, but am still ill-disciplined to use them so occasionally have missed pictures when fiddling around with the start-up screens.
  • Apple has published a pretty good set of hints and tips videos in their own website. Many can apply to a wide range of cameras
  • I have several different camera apps, but have ended up using the Apple one the most. I will experiment further with others but don't think I'm going to find much advantage.
  • In low light it can work well for fireworks and produce surprisingly reliable pictures.
  • Low lit people can also look good, but require some practice to get the picture steady enough. This is where the small camera starts to drift away from what is possible with a DSLR.
  • Slight tilting of the camera can change the exposure quite significantly.
  • The automatic smart HDR is quite helpful on some pictures.
  • Music band and theatre pictures don't come out so good, unless they are posed or almost static. I couldn't use the iPhone for any real theatre pictures and certainly not if I needed a reliable set for (say) publicity.
  • The burst mode is good for outdoor action and can capture water droplets and fast motion. I have about a dozen similar to the one below.
  • The portrait mode works well and gives that ability to re-blend the background bokeh, which is something I'd seen a few years ago on a specialised camera, but is now becoming mainstream. It works on objects too, but sometimes with strange results.
  • There are dozens of casual pictures which I've taken with the iPhone where I might not have seized the same moment with a compact alternative. Here's some sashimi, and no, I don't usually take foodie pictures.
  • Holding the camera level gives pretty good verticals across the frame.
  • Cropping works fine for the edges of the picture. Less usable for a zoom into a particular part of the frame. The resolution shows its limits when zooming at probably around 3x.
  • Compared with using a RAW from a DSLR, the JPG files run out of data quite a lot sooner. There's less latitude to rescue a picture.
  • Some editing (eg of Portrait depth) is only available in the iPhone App. I still prefer to get the pictures into my standard catalog and editor (Lightroom), where I can use Adobe-style editing in a single workflow.
  • The synchronisation with Lightroom CC Classic works fine. Pictures can be moved to other catalogues and collections once synchronised inside Lightroom
The pictures in this post are a casual selection from my last few weeks of snapshots. My main test is whether they look as if they could have been taken with something more than a phone.

It increases my confidence to walk out with just the phone on considerably more occasions.

Maisie's Moonshine

There may be a High Noon pause at Maisie's Saloon, but have any lessons been learned? Mrs May keeps sneaking ways to sell her moonshine.

If she does, the next few years can be filled with attempts to negotiate the Political Declaration from outside the EU.

There’ll be the classic outsourcing move. Negotiate exit with one team and then change them for the next stage so that all verbal understandings are swept from the table. The 36-pager of the Political Declaration (8 pages of proper content - the rest procedural) will need to be much longer in order to cast certainty onto anything.

Instead we’ll be left with a set of vague unagreed statements to get us from Brexit 0.1a to Brexit 1.0. That’s against the backdrop that right from the start the new deal is guaranteed to be worse than prevailing ‘in EU’ conditions.

The clown financiers are keeping quiet about their plans to introduce a Singapore model to set up Britain as an off-EU free-state. Just like all the other secretive ploys to run down the clock, not give firm dates for votes and keep motions under wraps until the last possible minute.

Bercow’s robustness yesterday caused another GBP drop. People with bundles of shares could see this as a good thing, cheaper pound means more attractive exports. The shiftier shorters will already be cashing in.

Post ‘deal', the Chancellor will start to tinker. The £26 billion he’s set aside for crash out contingency will become a limited spending spree, although it is dubious that there’s really that much available. He’ll tweak business tax to make the UK more attractive for certain types of company as well as certain types of money processing.

Without a sheriff in town the next stage is where the dubious financiers' real Ker-ching happens.

Monday, 18 March 2019

time for the ballad of Maisie's saloon

It's getting more like the Moonshine Saloon nowadays around at Maisie's Parliament.

I'm wondering that if you can't win a card hand legitimately, then maybe a few dollars could help things along?

And if that's not enough then maybe add an extra seat to the table? I guess we'll need to get used to hearing about block grants, Stormont locks and devolved Cabinet ministers over the next few weeks. Maisie runs the saloon just how she pleases; change the rules anytime to suit.

Meanwhile croupier Phil remains tight-lipped about more confidence and supply money, even when asked three times. I could hear that little red red rooster crowin'.

I've been along to see outside the saloon - my pictures below. It's still confusingly factional, with sporadic shouting and no-one listening to anyone else.

Come to think of it, there's little difference inside. The Erskine May rulebook doesn't amount to a hill of beans in these circumstances. The rules say you can't vote again on the same thing.

No problem, the get-around is to slightly tweak democracy.

Even when the formal document is locked, the idea of adding an amendment gives Maisie as many attempts as she likes, each one technically different.

It's a clever ruse.

That way there can be a third vote on the same matter, once they've rustled sufficient posse to ensure it can win. Even better, why not secretively control the date of the vote and keep it on a cliffhanger until the last moment when everything has been secured?

A blend of whipped tories, pork-barrelled DUP members and complicit hard right mercenaries operating to get to the next stage.

It hasn't happened yet, but that seems to be the plan, unless Mr Speaker stops it. Come to think of it, Maisie would probably attempt prorogation to reboot Parliament if that happened.

Forget the Wild West, this is the Wild Westminster. No wonder the Big Ben clock hides its face.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Daisy Jones and The Six

Sunday. One thing I said I wanted to do today but realised I couldn't.

Float in a warm, sunlit swimming pool looking up at a cloudless sky, maybe with a cool drink on hand.

In fairness, I did that last weekend, and the one before, and the one before that, but we can still dream.

This time I'll have to put up with sunshine and a clear blue sky, reading a novel. Life is still good.

The novel is Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

I'm a bit of a sucker for 'band on the road' type books, enjoying Jennifer Egan's A visit from the Goon Squad, Sylvia Patterson's I'm not with the band, Mick Farren's Give the Anarchist a Cigarette. Similarly with some of the movies - Almost Famous, and that slightly undercooked Roadies series (I'd have watched a sequel).

The current book is slightly experimental. Not to the level of Egan's novel, but this one uses a kind of interview style, more like one of the old magazines of the 70's era being described.

Each section starts with about 500 words of italicised intro, then jumps into an interview format. I wouldn't want to read too many books like this, but it works well for this particular unfolding story.

There's some feel-good generic positioning at the start. It's hardly spoiler because it also gets referenced in the cover flaps. Teenager goes to Sunset Strip. Meets fledgling rock band. Starts writing songs. Appears on stage with band doing a cover. Yikes, it could almost be A Star Is Born?

What makes it interesting are the hooks being built into the narrative. There's going to be sparks, tension, romance and heartache as well as the rock-n-roll from the band.

Yes, and I can tell it will be Access All Areas.

Friday, 15 March 2019

ides (March)

Julius Caesar was warned about this day in 44BC and despite looking over his shoulder it didn't end well for him.

A different script doesn't change the ending although in other politics there's political robotics determining that one result isn't enough.

A surfeit of voting opportunities shows how alternative democracy (maybe should have a z instead? - democrazy?) can allow the same Meaningful Vote to be exercised three times. Increase the threat level until the politically desired answer is provided.

The crazy robot doesn't see the irony of three votes on the same thing, when the Referendum was given one fact-free vote to guess the best outcome. Rinse and repeat.

In the wings the toff and buffoon are ready to pounce whilst the frog-faced MEP holds court insulting the EU27 leadership to attempt to stop an extension.

Not 'beware the ides', so much as 'beware the latin speakers': "Latine loqui qui hodie cave"

What's the correct response now?

My hovercraft is full of eels?

Or Parklife?

Thursday, 14 March 2019

unicorn, duck or flamingo?

I could have gone for the slightly startled looking white unicorn, but somehow the combination of a pink flamingo and a yellow duck seemed more cheerful.