Sunday, December 30, 2007

Britain's busiest train stations or not

Somone was kind enough to leave a comment on this old post on railways so I'm pointing you there as otherwise it'll never be seen.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blog Stats

Total number of posts
2,330

Posts mentioning...
Not quite as obsessive as I'd imagined.

Nick Cohen - 67 (3%)

"Decent Left" - 24 (1%)

"Daily Mail" - 74 (3%)

"Cuthie" - 46 (2%)

Posts by Year
You were a bit short-changed this year, Ross, Chris, Peter, Jackie, Dan, John, Nick, Alex, Katherine & of course Stephen, as I only managed 300 posts, down from over 400 in 2003, 2004 and 2006, and an enormous 628 in 2004.

2002 - 108 (scaled up from 8 months blogging)
2003 - 462
2004 - 628
2005 - 448
2006 - 402
2007 - 300 (including this one - possibly a few more to come)

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Comfort on the Underground


29/12/2007
Originally uploaded by mjtphotos
Here Jonathan Glancey declares the rolling stock on the Metropolitian line of the London Underground to be a 'design classic', partly because it is by far the most comfortable train on the network. He's right about that - when you're at one of the stations (such as Great Portland Street) where your choice is a Circle or H&C train, or a Metropolitan line train, when the latter arrives there is a sense of relief, particularly if (as is often the case in daytime) it is relatively empty. You really do sink back in those over-sized seats.

The main reason they are the most comfortable trains, however, is that they are a lot larger than most trains on the network, particularly the ones that have to go into deep level 'tubes', such as the Central Line.

The H&C line (and possibly the Circle?) trains are not as comfortable. However, in what is probably not a little-known secret, they do have two "business class" (ok, perhaps premium economy) seats, one at the end of each carriage, which are 50% wider than the standard seat (pictured). Luxury...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Really?

The Guardian reports, and correctly, that the Nationwide estimates the average house price in Belfast is £306,698, more than in Cambridge, and £50,000 more than in Ediburgh.

Can that really be correct? It is said to have risen 32% in a year, which is £70,000 or so, but it still seems remarkable. What multiple is that of earnings?

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Miserable news for 2008

That dreadful man Michael Parkison is to get a knighthood.

On the other hand I was unaware you could change the font in blogger, so that's a bonus. It's like reading school newsletters of the late 1980s when Pagemaker 2.0 came out.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Won't the poor just shut up?

After all they have a refrigerator and TV.

Incidentally doesn't their argument support moves to greater income equality, i.e. redistribution of wealth on a grand scale? If utility is (say) the square root of income, so an income of 10 is about 3.2, 100 10, and 1000 32, which seems to be what they are saying, then taking 400 off the 1000 earner only reduces his utility by 7, or less than a quarter. You could then give 40 people on 10 another 10, which would increase their utility by 1.5 each, or nearly 50%. Total utility would rise by an enormous 53.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Currency speculation - end of year roundup

Back on the 25th July I declared that sterling was clearly overvalued against the dollar, and as such I would be buying dollars through Citibank in an attempt to profit from its inevitable rise.

I've periodically updated how its going on this site (usually inaccurately - I declared in November there was $2000, when in fact there was nowhere near that much). Anyway here's the final year tally:

Paid in: £800
Dollars held: $1,631
Average exchange rate realised: 2.038
Current exchange rate: 1.984
Current sterling value: £822

So a gain of about 2.75%, and although the account does pay some interest so it's probably a bit less than that solely due to exchange rate movements, one should also calculate it on the average amount that was in the account, and that would show a higher return.

So it's looking OK.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Food halls of London

Here is my guide according to the amount of free tasters you get:

Selfridges

Very disappointing. Walked around three times and saw nothing. Remember in the past they sometimes give a few chocolates away. 1/10

Harrods

Even more disappointing. Almost nothing. Can't remember ever once getting anything, except perhaps a free Krispy Kreme when that first launched. 0/10

Fortnum and Masons

Zilch. Maybe if you took your butler?

John Lewis

A small piece of stilton, but ruined by it being handed out by an assistant who gave it to you meaning you couldn't get seconds. However free glass of red wine in the homeware section. 4/10

Whole Foods Market

Easily the winner. Starts of with bits of stollen, then salted caramels, moving onto cheese, then piece of strawberries and finally chocolates. Could probably stay here all day and not have to buy any food. 9/10

Galeries Lafayette (Paris)

Disappointing. Will let you try cheeses if you ask in fluent French. 0/10

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Pollard's in anti-Gordon mood today

I'll try and leave a comment on the Spectator blog [1], but I've had not had much luck in the past with getting them published, so I'll also revel here in my moment of fame - Stephen Pollard, of Maida Vale Manifesto fame, has outed himself as a reader of this blog[2]!

He is of course totally correct (although what's with the 'matey' - is that meant to sound hard?) about Gordon Brown's poll ratings and my criticism. Although it is early days, and many of the problems have had little to do with Brown, since I made that post one could not say the performance of Gordon Brown has augured well for an election (although of course he has had the achievement of making Oliver Kamm declare he will switch his vote to Labour at a general election).

On the other hand, of course Pollard can't gloat about his sagacity. It is true that he has made posts claiming Blair was the best PM and Brown would be a disaster, but this is Pollard, and of course he has made posts claiming the opposite. If you take both sides of the argument you'll always be right, but it also means that you'll always be wrong, too. And so it was only just over 18 months ago that Pollard said:

If Labour is to pull itself round, the Chancellor needs to take over soon. With every passing day, Labour’s internal wounds grow deeper, and the Conservatives grow stronger. The electorate know that Tony Blair now stands for little bar the lame and morally bankrupt occupation of office.


A post for every eventuality - I expect if Brown recovers he'll dig out the positive one above.

[1] Hurrah, it's turned up. Could be slightly better formatted.
[2] Or maybe a friend sent it to him.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cheek to cheek

Well there you go. We knew Dick Cheney was Machiavellian, but I never thought he would stoop to such levels. Talk about provoking the Iranians into a war.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Melanie Phillips again

Aside from the even loopier conspiracy theories about the US and the Middle East that she is advocating today, this gem is worth reading her column for alone:


REASON FIGHTS BACK...reason appears to have got its boots on at last. First the Pope denounces the man-made-global-warming ‘prophets of doom’ for ‘scare-mongering’ on the basis of dogma rather than science.


What has happened to her? I know even her hitherto supporters are now drifting away.

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Army losing 'battalion' a year to drugs...

...warns the BBC. The good news is that it hasn't affected their martial spirit -apparently the battalion is always first to volunteer for Aghanistan duty.

Boom, boom. Actually the importance of story is entirely lost on me, as I have no idea how large a battalion is. But give there is an automatic discharge for testing positive, and 769 soldiers were last year, that's a pretty hefty % of the army to lose each year.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wet Wet Wet Concert TWO

Is it really Right to be Anti-American? Nick Cohen's famous post 9/11 essay which declared that it is is not that persuasive.

Anyway our newest recruit has been to another WWW concert, this time in Glasgow, the band's home town.


I've been to many Wet Wet Wet concerts in my time but nothing prepared me for the madness that was Glasgow. A rollercoaster that started with a stupidly early flight from heathrow and ended with me realising that some of my friends can shatter glass from 30 paces. A few changes were made to the set and a truly bonkers night.




More exclusive live WWW blogging to come.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Melanie Phillips conspiracy theories

You must go and read this post.

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Pension nonsense

The figures in this Daily Mail article, partly (I think not wholly) based on this Lib Dem release, are absurd.

First, pensioners do not "now receive less than in 1950" - they receive, if you believe the numbers (and they seem reasonable) a smaller proportion of the average wage. We might - I do - think it should be higher, but we shouldn't pretend it actually means a smaller amount of money.

Second, their conversions to today's money should hae alarm bells ringing. Can it really be true that the average wage, apparently 7.08 pounds a week in 1950, is equivalent to 499 pounds a week today, only slightly less than the current average wage of 549 pounds a week? Of course it isn't, even allowing for a smaller % of people in the labour force (and hence higher wages for those who were). In fact the correct figure is that 7 pounds a week is equivalent to 165 pounds a week today, and the pension of 1950 equivalent to about 31 pounds a week, less than half today's level.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Near-Live Wet Wet Wet blogging

Nick Cohen said this [1], Nick Cohen said that [2], is all very well. But as promised more than a year ago this blog is proud to announce near-live-blogging of Wet Wet Wet's [see picture [3]] 20th anniversary tour.

Our new employee (of whom all i can reveal is that she is not the tallest women in the audience) is to attend a whole string of these, and has promised to report back on Pellow and the Boys. Last night was Birmingham, and after meeting the band in their hotel beforehand the concert was as follows:

"It was very good, although the audience felt subdued and, typically, I had the tallest woman in the audience stood directly in front of me! Pellow was on great form and the sound was terrific. One of the best things was getting Love Is All Around done and dusted in the first five minutes, and there were loads of new tracks and some of the oldies were given a wash and brush-up. Bring on Glasgow on Sunday!"

[1] "Why It Is Right to be Anti-American"
[2] Can we have a decent left? Here.
[3] Searching google images for "wet wet wet" is not advisable if you are at work.

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