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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘united kingdom

[LINK] “Scotland poll shows a nation on the verge of abandoning Labour”

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At The Guardian‘s datablog, Alberto Nardelli suggests that, come the next British general election, the SNP will sweep Scotland and practically destroy Labour. This has implications for the future of Britain’s Labour Party, but even more so for the future of Scotland within the United Kingdom.

Make no mistake, Labour’s crisis in Scotland is profound. That’s the inescapable conclusion of Lord Ashcroft’s 14 constituency polls that show the party losing all but one of the Labour-held seats surveyed.

The swing from Labour to the Scottish National party (SNP) is above 20% in all 14 of those seats – the average is 25% – the kind of shift that is arguably seen only once in a generation.

That is not all. More troubling for Labour is the fact that among all voters under 44, support for the SNP is nearly double that of Labour. The SNP leads across all age groups, except among those aged 65 and above.

To make matters even worse for Ed Miliband’s party, the seats polled by Ashcroft are among the ones Labour won with the highest margins five years ago – and the swing in these is even greater than the one implied in Scotland-wide polls.

On the Guardian’s modelling, based on current polls, the SNP would win 54 out of the 59 seats in Scotland. The Lib Dems would retain one, Orkney and Shetland, and Labour four.

But, curiously, when you look at the impact of these polls on the most recent projection, the most likely next government remains unchanged. Some sort of Labour-SNP alliance is still the most probable starting point of any feasible government because the Conservatives remain far short of an overall majority, where 326 seats are needed. The current arithmetic also means that feasible Tory options fall some way short of the required numbers.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 5, 2015 at 10:58 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO lists the five oldest restaurants in Toronto, finding out that the oldest date from the 1920s.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about how tourism helps revive her sense that people are good.
  • Centauri Dreams considers how an Encyclopedia Galactica could possibly work.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to papers speculating that hot massive O-class stars HD
    and IRAS 16547−4247 appear to have protoplanetary disks, and notes the discovery of a very low-mass brown dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to an article suggesting that China will deploy military forces to Africa.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the sociology of music.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Sigrún Davíðsdóttir comes out against strongly against FX lending, like the franc-denominated mortgages of central Europe.
  • Language Hat links to poetry from neglected languages and notes that in medieval Europe, Germanic areas had much better Latin than Romance areas where people thought they already spoke the language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the Roman Catholic Church’s uncomfortable relationship to colonizers.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at who in the United States is moving out of the labour force.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers what might happen to Venezuelan assets in the case of a default, noting British law which might be relevant and looking at the question of whether or not Venezuela’s creditors could seize Citgo.
  • Savage Minds features a blog post from Ritu Gairola Khanduri, talking about the importance of cartoons in India.
  • Towleroad argues that trans actor Janet Mock should be considered an icon.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes why bakers can’t be forced to take orders for anti-gay cakes.
  • Window on Eurasia notes regressive Russian attitudes towards Ukraine, and looks at how Russia is rejecting European legal norms.

[URBAN NOTE] “Beware, countryfolk: the rural hipster may soon be among you”

Writing for The Guardian‘s Comment is Free, one Deborah Orr argues only somewhat jokingly that high prices in London might drive hipsters deep into the British countryside. (New Yorkers to New Orleans are also mentioned, so clearly this is something she thinks could be a global phenomenon.)

Hipsters, one assumes, are the Trustafarians de nos jours.How can young people afford to live in London at all, to pay rent or have a mortgage, let alone Shoreditch? It’s a mystery. Why aren’t they so worried about billsand the future that membership of somehappening tribe is neither here or there? Family money. Has to be. Spoilt brats, wanting it all – to be rich and alternative, with their humanities degrees and their entrepreneurial cereal cafes, their ability to paddle along on their raft of aspiration, seemingly unaware of the hardships of those they displace?

But even the hipsters can only manage the capital for a while. The young middle classes are moving out of London like they haven’t done since the 1960s and 70s, when “white flight” was seen as a problem. Cities like Birmingham are already noting the arrival of people with more money than sense, who will attract other people with more money than sense, until the people with more sense than money start finding that this isn’t Kansas any more.

Kansas may be choc-a-block with hipsters too, for all I know. But the most hipster place I’ve even been to is Magazine Street in New Orleans, a long shopping street lined with perfect pastel-painted clapboard, little boutiques and brocante. Post-Katrina, the white middle classes are moving to New Orleans in large numbers, lured by lovely old houses at prices that are cheap to them and ludicrously expensive to the local population. Pick up any edition of the local paper and you’ll find some former New Yorker who moved to New Orleans prior to this influx, making some tortured argument about the great integrity of his own move to the city. I’ve heard it all before.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 24, 2015 at 4:58 am

[URBAN NOTE] “A Toronto historical map of London, England”

Spacing Toronto’s Adam Bunch recently came up with an interesting idea for a map of Toronto-centric map of London.

Toronto has a deeper connection to London, England than it does to almost any other city in the world. After all, our entire country was essentially ruled from this place for more than a hundred years. Some of the most important moments in the history of our city happened in this city, nearly six thousand kilometers away. As you walk through the streets of Westminster, or Piccadilly, or Mayfair, you’re likely to pass dozens of hidden connections to the history of Toronto without ever realizing they’re there.

Lots of that history is found in the centre of the city — in the bits you can see in this photo. So I thought I’d explore some of the Toronto stories hidden in the streets of Central London: from the solider who founded our city, to the mayor who rebelled against it, to the moment when Canadian women were finally seen as people. Each number on the map comes with its own story, plus links to full posts about most of them, some other spots in Central London connected to those stories, and a link to find the exact locations on Google Maps.

Each story is described in full in the post.

Is an app far away?

Written by Randy McDonald

January 24, 2015 at 3:02 am

[LINK] “Commando Theft of Nazi Radar Turned Town Into Cyber Valley”

Bloomberg’s Jeremy Hodges and Kit Chellel tell a remarkable story about how a British exploit in the Second World War made a spa town a leading world centre in cybersecurity.

On a winter’s evening in 1942, a daring raid by British commandos to steal a German radar on the French coast set in motion a series of events that would see a small town, nestled in middle England, become a leading cyber-defense hub.

Malvern is home to more than 80 companies dotted among nondescript office parks in the rolling hills of the Worcestershire market town, about 100 miles north west of London. During World War II, Malvern was used as a radar research center, growing to a large scale government operation that spawned defense contractor Qinetiq Group Plc (QQ/) in 2001.

As the rate and sophistication of cyber-attacks has grown, small, specialist businesses in the region are taking on the hackers, winning contracts with governments and businesses around the world.

In Malvern there is a “long-standing pedigree of specialist security research and delivery expertise,” said Robin King, chief executive officer of Deep-Secure, a 25 employee company that develops software to protect sensitive information and counts the U.K. Ministry of Defence as a client.

[. . .]

In the U.K., Malvern is better known for its mineral water. Its reputation as a spa town dates back to the 17th century when tourists traveled to the area to sample the health-giving properties of the water that ran down from the surrounding hills.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 15, 2015 at 10:50 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at the oddly tilted circumstellar disk of HD 142527.
  • The Crux notes a study suggesting that, where women are rare, men are less promiscuous.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper documenting the Spitzer telescope’s deep observations of Vega, Fomalhaut, and Epsilon Eridani, looking for planets and not finding signs of Epsilon Eridani b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper documenting maize consumption in the pre-Hispanic Andes.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on the economics of Uber.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to a presentation on demographic data from Crimea.
  • Savage Minds looks at the fine balance in ethnographic writing between theory and data.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle considers whether there is such a thing as being too clean.
  • Strange Maps examines the tutulemma. What is it? Go there to find out.
  • Towleroad argues for more sympathy for gay men married to straight women, as in the recent TLC show.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that in Canada, terms of religious marriage contracts which violate secular law can’t stand.
  • Nicholas Whyte has more on the inking of Edward Heath in 1972.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that talk of “traditional values” always relates to contemporary issues, argues that Russian propaganda in Belarus is alienating locals, and wonders if the North Caucasus will accept closer rule from Moscow in exchange for economic development.

[DM] “On Steve Emerson, #foxnewsfacts, and bad pop demography”

I’ve a post up reflecting on Steven Emerson’s famous statement about Birmingham, and #foxnewsfacts.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 14, 2015 at 4:59 am


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