The Non-English Olympic Team

The BBC article on the Team GB Olympic kit entertains your humble correspondent. People I respect have been writing that The Powers That Be are hostile to England and the English for some time. I suspect that Stella McCartney's design may be discussed for far longer than any other kit in living memory.

What they've done is re-colour the Union Flag to remove the symbol for England. That's not right. Combined with the way that the Olympic team is full of hired guns from all over the world, I expect sharper wits than mine to latch onto this symbolic faux-pas.


That Rod Liddle article

A disgrace, that's what it is.

I've read the Rod Liddle article, and it's a disgrace. No, not that he commented on an ongoing court case. He defended that foundational (but sadly now, outdated) principle of English law, that you can't be tried twice for the same crime.

So, what is a disgrace in my view?

Well, it's a disgrace that a judge would suppress such a mild and general discussion.

It's a disgrace that the Spectator hadn't the backbone to tell the court that it was over-reaching.

And it will be a disgrace that no-one in public life will defend Liddle.


Bayes Theorem Banned?

Quick post: judge bans Bayes Theorem from evidence according to the Guardian.

Bayes Theorem is a vitally important part of maths/stats, and in particular, very important for reasoning about evidence. The classic teaching example is of a test for a rare disease. If the disease affects 1/100,000 and the false positive rate is 1/10,000, and the test is 100% reliable otherwise, the probability is that a positive outcome is a false positive is 90%+. I frequently shudder at the maths/economics illiteracy in the UK. This isn't making that any better.

Amazingly, we're not even allowed to know the name of the judge or the name of the appelant.


Today's Question

Can anyone tell me that the political class genuinely feel that the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece (especially) and Spain) can be saved an retained within the Euro area?

I know that the phrase "headless chicken" is over-used, but the course of action with the Euro area does bring to mind a certain lack any sensible thought. And that leaves Osbourne's decision to assist with the bailouts to one side.

Blogroll Update

Time to update the blogroll. Three additions today:

Autonomous Mind, because the blog consistently hits the high notes. Insight, consistency, more "pointedness" than possibly any other writer I can think of... If I were in media, I'd hire the genius behind it before anyone I can think of.

Raedwald. Hmm. I wish it was because he's as English as the White Cliffs, the Norfolk broads, the Cotswolds, or the Yorkshire moors. Because when I have my "O tempore, O mores" moments, I think that England has lost it's spine, and could never build a Tube system, or a British Museum today, and then think, well, probably ten clones of Raedwald could. Plenty of spine there. But it isn't. It's for this perspective on the crimes of Labour. He, at least, dares to call it treason.

Finally, Witterings from Witney, because he's combining great blogging with a personal voice. He's probably the blogger I'd most like to share a beer with.


Measuring the Speed of Light ... In Granite?

This morning, I read in the Telegraph that neutrinos appear to have travelled faster than the speed of light.

I don't tend to opine on matters scientific, so take the following with a hefty pinch of salt, but...

Some background: light travels at different speeds through different substances. The classic "186,000 miles a second" is the speed through a vacuum. But the speed of light through air and glass and water and diamond are all different: the difference between air and glass is why prisms and spectacles work; the difference between air and water is why an oar appears to bend at the surface of the water; the difference in speed between space and air is why the daylight sky is blue.

The experiment in question involves sending neutrinos 750 miles 732km or so between source and detector. Since the neutrinos travel in a straight line, that requires passage through the earth. So what this experiment appears to do (to me) is merely prove that the "speed of light" through rock differs from our initial expectation.

I could, of course, be wrong. Or worse, I could be unoriginal, but I'll back relativity over previous estimates of the speed of light through rock.

Update 2011-09-25: Corrected the distance involved.


Humpty Pritchard Redefines Referendum

'When I use a word', said Humpty Dumpty
in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just
what I choose it to mean - neither more
nor less'.

Controlling what words mean is a very powerful tool.

There are rumblings within the Tory Party. A new group of MPs claiming to be Euro-sceptic has formed headed by one of David Cameron's closest political allies, George Eustace.

Richard North and Autonomous Mind quickly pointed out that the group muddied the waters around the term "Eurosceptic", and helpfully offered the more accurate label "Europlastic".

Now, Mark Pritchard is spreading more confusion. The problem for MPs is that anyone with a properly formed opinion on the EU knows that the people are owed an in-out referendum. Pritchard tries to turn the thrust of this by suggesting two referenda on Europe. The first (which is far more likely to occur) is about enquiring politely of the people of Britain whether they'd like political union, or rather a trading block. As a question, it's something of a no-op. Almost no campaigning would occur, since the result is a foregone conclusion.

He's trying to ensure that there is wriggle room when the word referendum is used by redefining a commonly understood term. It's a childish trick, copying Humpty Dumpty, straight out of Alice in Wonderland.