philmophlegm: (Concentrated power)

"We can all put aside our partisan differences for a moment and agree that this Trump-Clinton “Dirty Dancing” duet is the best thing to come out of the debate."

Don't trust "factcheckers". Maybe it’s just my innate cynicism and a background as a professional sceptic that always makes me doubt someone who claims to be “unbiased” when giving you “the facts”.

Why Truman fired MacArthur. Fascinating account.

Weaker Sterling is (on balance) somewhere between good and very good for the UK economy.

...and another article making a similar argument.

Tolkien might not have been too impressed by the current trend to concentrate on the ethnicity of science fiction and fantasy authors rather than the quality of their work.

There is no such thing as trickle-down economics.

This is the best explanation of why so many people will vote for Donald Trump that I've seen.

Ched Evans is Not Guilty. Here's ten myths about the case that need to be busted.

Who is winning in Labour and the Liberal Democrats' race to be the most anti-semitic party?

Dennis Byrd didn't deserve to die in a car crash.

Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' slowed down is amazingly good. (Thanks beckyc)

18 Game of Thrones moments improved by quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Given the dearth of available options, who should American conservatives vote for in the presidential election?

Are we seeing the beginning of a political realignment in the UK? Interesting lecture.

Here's a particularly unsubtle example of simple corruption from the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

Political map of Europe, year-by-year from 3650BC to 2016AD.

70-year-olds play D&D for the first time.

The third most likely person to become the next President of the United States, and how he would do it. OK, it’s beyond unlikely, but not impossible…

philmophlegm: (Lego Rock Band)

You don't need this laptop.

Trying to understand the EU's actions against Apple and the Republic of Ireland.

It's not shocking that professional employers judge applicants for client-facing roles partly on their appearance and their dress. What is shocking is that not only do state schools not teach this stuff, they sometimes don’t like it when employers try to do it instead.

Useful smartphone test. When I last bought a smartphone, I read lots of reviews, but one question that was never asked was “How good is it at making and receiving calls?”, that is “How good is it at actually being a phone”"?”

According to the latest Rowntree Foundation definition, someone in the top 0.32% of global incomes is now "in poverty". Muppets.

British WW2 propaganda posters.

Think you're good at Lego building? This guy is better.

If you were an American games company raising funds on Kickstarter for a new family card game "that combines speed, hilarious gestures, and your silly side for 2-6 players, ages 6+", and you weren't that familiar with politically incorrect British playground slang, what's the worst name you could come up with...?

"Nobody ever got sacked for buying IBM" …but maybe in this case, someone should have been.

When I was an auditor, this sort of clever statistical analysis was called a logic check. This is a good logic check on why American police might treat certain groups differently. (Hat tip to ford_prefect42.)

Archaeological evidence of a major bronze age battle in northern Germany c.1250 BC.

philmophlegm: (Wrexham club shield)

The latest target of the PC police - Gilbert & Sullivan.

"Controversy as Chester Zoo opens 'Wrexham Scally Enclosure'". (I should point out that Homo Wrexhamius Scalliensis Chavus is pretty much confined to the southern part of Wrexham, not the nice bit where I’m from…)

Why Gandhi is such an asshole in Civilisation.

The Curious Case of the (Medieval) Weapon that Didn't Exist

Why you can't just have more quantitative easing to get rid of the national debt.

This is not a 512gb microSD card.

The worst football kits of all time. They’re all bad, but Colorado, seriously…?

This month's best headline is from an astronomy website.

"A lousy, stupid, no good, bad, law is being proposed."

Star Wars Episode IV in a single image. (OK, it’s a very big image, but still…)

Minimalist, anonymous rooms are probably not a good place to do teamwork.

"We all owe a significant debt to Richard Murphy." No, really.

I'm an only child, so I can't really relate to this. Nevertheless I thought it was a sweet film about growing up being “Player Two”.

Woman accidentally joins search party looking for herself.

Today's most widely misinterpreted piece of economics, from the IMF. There are two arguments put forward in the paper. The first is that there are risks associated with capital account liberalisation (allowing money into and out of the country with less regulation). The second is that although high public debt is bad for growth and welfare, for countries with excellent records of debt repayment, like the US, the UK and Germany, a “credible medium-term fiscal consolidation” makes more sense than a “fiscal noose today”. In other words, slowly bringing down debt as a percentage of GDP, not slashing everything to balance the budget as soon as possible. Now that’s pretty much what the UK’s current fiscal policy is. Still I suppose “IMF economists broadly agree with George Osborne” isn’t quite as good a headline as “You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within”. Seriously, this is a paper that says “There is much to cheer in the neoliberal agenda. The expansion of global trade has rescued millions from abject poverty. Foreign direct investment has often been a way to transfer technology and know-how to developing economies. Privatization of state-owned enterprises has in many instances led to more efficient provision of services and lowered the fiscal burden on governments”… and Facebook (and one of our less reputable newspapers) is full of idiots claiming that “we are witnessing the death of neoliberalism”.­

philmophlegm: (NFL draft)

Here's a clever way to make interstellar travel real.

"Around 50% 'hold authoritarian views'". Sounds shocking. What’s more shocking is the ignorance of the researchers (three politics professors no less, albeit from second rate universities) as to what constitutes “authoritarian”. Authoritarians would presumably favour powerful state control, right? You know, like Stalin or Hitler or Mao. Not according to these three clowns. Apparently “ideological sympathy for… rolling back the state” is an authoritarian point of view. Incredible.

Thankfully I wasn't the only person to spot this.

Did you own a copy of Buckaroo or MouseTrap when you were a kid? There's a good chance it was assembled by Irish slaves. Seriously.

The new president of the National Union of Students sounds like a lovely girl.

The Game of Thrones Mock Draft.

The Stevland Angus Appreciation Society

Brave socio-political commentary in 'My Little Pony'. Yes, really.

The man who put 50p on Leicester City to win the Premier League at 5000/1 and cashed it out for 45p after one match (which they won 4-2).

Richard 'fuckwit' Murphy had to publically apologise to Lord Ashcroft and make a donation to his charity for being wrong. I wish the legal system could force him to make an apology every other time he’s been wrong.

Paramount is trying to claim copyright over the Klingon Language. The Language Creation Society's legal reply is wonderful.

Why are we so understanding towards the crimes of Communism? A suggestion I’ve seen elsewhere is that International Labour Day should be replaced with a day of remembrance for the victims of communism and socialism. Good idea.

Gerry Adams apologises for tweeting the word "nigger". I’m amazed at the fuss about this. Might it not have occurred to the twitter commentariat that heading a terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of 1,800 people is ever so slightly worse than typing a naughty word into social media?

10 things the bookies thought were more likely to happen than Leicester City winning the Premier League.

When the US Navy had flying aircraft carriers.

philmophlegm: (The Chick's in the Mail)
Most of the books on my list-of-books-to-be-reviewed-without-the-use-of-pseudish-cockwaffle are not history books. However, the review randomiser (i.e. asking [livejournal.com profile] bunn to think of a number) has come out with another history book.

You might think, given the title, that this is not a serious history book at all, but some kind of children's book in which a plucky girl called Emma outwits and outfoxes nasty rough vikings. It is a serious history book, but actually, that description isn't far off. You probably haven't heard of Emma, unless you're already well read in early 11th century English history. You'll come away from this book thinking that she should be a really famous and important person in English history. She was after all, Queen to two different Kings of England (one of whom was also King of Denmark and of Norway), mother to two more Kings of England and stepmother to two more Kings of England (and great aunt to William the Conqueror). She was the richest woman in England and wielded considerable diplomatic influence across England, Normandy, Denmark and Norway. She seems to have been particularly influential in the transition from Viking rule of England to English rule.

The book itself is nicely written and despite its title it does a good job of explaining the various factions and the political and diplomatic situation. I was particularly intrigued by it because this isn't a period of history that seems to be covered much, either in popular culture, or by popular historians. For example, Simon Schama's 'History of Britain' makes no mention of Sweyn and Cnut's conquest of England. I knew a bit about Cnut, but I bet to most people he's the guy who couldn't stop the tide coming in. There seems to be a big gap between Alfred the Great and 1066 that nobody writes novels about and nobody makes films about and nobody writes history books about. That's surprising because a hell of a lot happens - and most of it is described in this book.

Very readable and I found it a very interesting period that I previously knew relatively little about. Highly recommended.
philmophlegm: (Hagia Sophia)
OK, so it isn't New Year and I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, but here's one anyway. In the past, I occasionally wrote short punchy book reviews and posted them on LJ. I'm going to try to do that again. I've written out a list of all the books that I've read since I last did this and the book will be selected at random. I should also point out that I feel strongly that the point of a book review is to say if you liked the damn book, along with enough detail about it that anyone reading the review will get a good idea of whether or not they will like it. So that's what you're going to get in these short reviews, not pseudish cockwaffle.

Here's the first:

Read more... )
philmophlegm: (D&D Basic)

The best business schools now recruit people with both experience of industry and teaching ability. (…and so does my university, which is how I’m there. However, since the business school is only in its second year, it might be a while before we catch up with Harvard…)

Japan is more low-tech than you might think.

...and Sony has just finished making Betamax cassettes. (I bet there are still fanboys out there arguing that the picture quality is better than VHS.)

Not for the first time, I thought we'd reached Peak Guardian, but no!

The sad tale of the man who designed the Diamond Jubilee Barge.

Visiting every Toby Carvey in Britain with a blind photographer.

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding (Actually, they’re more things you might like to avoid than really appalling sins, but hey.)

A really nice map of Expert D&D Module X1: The Isle of Dread

'Virtue signalling' is not virtue. Good point. (And I am aware of the irony of linking to this post using social media.)

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