I had an amazing time at Harrington & Squires, learning about the art of letterpress printing. Chrissie and Vicky were such great hosts, and if you get a chance, I’d highly recommend their workshops, or visiting their shop in Tufnell Park.
Some remarkable similarities between these two M.C. Escher-alikes.
My new thing is to listen to Danish radio in the morning in the hope that it will improve my Danish language listening skills. At the moment I can only pick up the odd word in each sentence, but there was an interview (in English) with Prem Rawat that caught my ear, which included this:
I think we are really out of touch with ourselves. We’re in touch with everything else: this account, and that account, and our phones. Things that were supposed to save us us time may or may not save time, but they definitely occupy that free time we were promised.Prem Rawat DRP1’s Sproglaboratoriet
This reminded me of something Mark Steel said when he was on The Infinite Monkey Cage show. He reckoned that the problems lie with the “social mechanisms” that employ the science, rather than the science itself:
In the early 1970s, there were two things that we were promised … One was that space travel would go on and on, and by now we’d certainly be on Mars. But the other thing was that new technology would mean that we would have this crisis of having so much leisure, because everything would done by machinery … what on earth do we do with all the time? As we know, the average working week now in Britain is longer than it was back then.Mark Steel BBC Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage Series 2 Ep. 4
What I mean is that if you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else. That forces you to sort it out in your own mind. And the more slow and dim-witted your pupil, the more you have to break things down into more and more simple ideas. And that’s really the essence of programming. By the time you’ve sorted out a complicated idea into little steps that even a stupid machine can deal with, you’ve certainly learned something about it yourself. The teacher usually learns more than the pupil. Isn’t that true?Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Douglas Adams
The Danish language has collapsed into meaningless guttural sounds.From a sketch on Norwegian TV show, Uti Vår Hage
I have been teaching myself the Danish language with the Duolingo app since January, and so far it has been pretty fun—albeit a little difficult at times. A couple of favourite words so far:
I had a chance to practice some of Danish skills when I visited Copenhagen with Helen and family in April. We had a great time, ate some tasty food (apart from the burnt onion ash!), and I had a chance to catch up with my old friend Matt (aka Milhouse).
Whilst most the UK were struggling through the sweaty June/July heatwave, Helen and I were lazying by the beach in Sardinia. The location was spectacular, so here is a picture of a food van:
At the end of July, Helen and I visited France. Our first stop was Nogent-le-Rotrou, a seemingly sleepy town in the Perche region, where we attended the wedding of one of Helen’s old work friends. Once again, another stunning location, overlooking the endless French countryside, so here is a picture of a quiet junction:
After that we spend a few nights in Paris. We were fortunate enough to catch the final stage of the Tour de France on the day we arrived, including a fleeting glimpse of Chris Froome.
I will miss this gentleman a lot.
A campaign has been set up to complete James’ second album. To donate, visit the campaign page.
This infographic, highlighting quirks of the UK voting system, recently popped up in my Twitter feed. Whilst the accompanying article makes some valid points, the graphic is rather inaccurate.
Firstly, it uses circles (of two dimensions) to represent one-dimensional data. Edward Tufte discusses this in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information:
There are considerable ambiguities in how people perceive a two-dimensional surface and then convert that perception into a one-dimensional number. Changes in physical area on the surface of a graphic do not reliably produce appropriately proportional changes in perceived areas.
In this instance, the designer has varied the radius/diameter of the circles, which results in a surface area that exaggerates the data. For example, compare the circles for the Green Party and the SNP. If the Green Party circle represents 1 unit-squared, then you’d expect the SNP’s circle to be 56 units-squared. Instead, it is 3136 units-squared—56-times greater than it should be.
Secondly, it encourages comparisons between values on different scales: percentage of votes, and number of seats.
The graphic gives the impression that the Lib Dems gain considerably from the voting system: 8% votes → 26 seats. 26 seats actually represents just 4% of the total seats (650), so their votes are effectively halved! This distortion is also observed when comparing the Lib Dems’ “votes” circle to the SNP’s “seats” circle. The SNP’s 56 seats (8.61%) should be comparable to the Lib Dems votes (8%). It isn’t.
What’s more, there is a second graphic (not re-published here), making the same votes-to-seats comparisons but with the Labour, Conservative, and Ukip parties. However, this is on a different scale to the previous one, making any further comparisons impossible.
It would be more accurate to make comparisons based on percentages of seats, and include all the data in a single graphic. Perhaps a simple table would suffice?
The following table attempts to convey how much each party is set to gain/lose because of the voting system based on the forecast. A ratio greater than 1 indicates that a party gains from the system; ratio less than 1 indicates that a party loses from the system.
|Party||% of Votes||% of Seats||
% Seats / % Votes
Ratios can be transformed into “Advantages” by taking logarithms: positive values indicate gain, negative values indicate loss.
|Party||% of Votes||% of Seats||
log2(% Seats / % Votes)
From these tables we can deduce that:
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