Cuil isn’t

July 29, 2008 4 comments

So, that new search engine Cuil? It’s completely rubbish.

Let’s take an obvious example: here. If you’re searching for “john band”, is it more likely that you want a chap named John Band, or is it more likely that you want the Elton John Band but can’t remember its lead singer’s first name? Clue: Cuil gets it wrong.

Lest you think I’m guilty of vanity here, let’s assume you’re looking for an ambiguous term that refers either to an actually-well-known-and-well-read blogger, or to some wanky Canadian jeans. It’s the jeans for you, mate.

There are other weirdnesses too: Chris gets attention; Jamie gets none

Overall, Google remains the winner.

Serious violent crime map

July 28, 2008 1 comment

I’ve been busy working and being in pain (alcohol and seedy dives with steep slippery wooden staircases are not a good combination, but codeine and sodium naproxen are excellent painkillers); apologies for lack of posting.

Luckily for those of you who come here for evidence that we’re not all going to hell in a handcart having been murdered in our beds, Mark Easton at the BBC has been busy researching the data – and has an excellent post on levels of serious violence by geography, which also highlights the falling levels of serious violent crime.

Categories: Statistrickery

Exciting fact from Commentisfree

July 23, 2008 Leave a comment

The Beatles recorded Revolver in 2005.

Please can we keep the Scots? I’m fairly sure they drive the average IQ up, at least compared to the English Parliament nutters…

Categories: Bit of politics

On knowing a man by his friends

July 22, 2008 6 comments

Mr Eugenides is an extremely offensive and ranty, but also highly entertaining and generally honest, blogger. I disagree with him on most things, and sometimes feel that his commentary on female Labour MPs’ stupidity goes beyond the stick they deserve for their actions into misogynistic territory, but overall he’s a principled and reasonable right-libertarian.

Unfortunately, he’s decided to go on holiday and put his mates Carpsio and Moai in charge. I say unfortunately because, in three posts they’ve made, they’ve managed to fall for three of the most obvious and ridiculous libertoonian [*] myths:

1) “the government is evil to small businesses by making them pay for maternity leave. The government should reimburse companies for maternity pay. But they won’t, the bastards”.

Fact: they do. Moai’s suggestion would be worse than the status quo, as it’d only help tax-paying profitable businesses and not start-ups.

2) “the BBC and the Guardian are evil lying scum for suggesting that Ofcom condemned the Global Warming Swindle documentary”.

Fact: Ofcom found that the programme was unfair, partial, and misrepresented significant views on the subject. It rejected the complaint that the programme had ‘materially misled’ the audience. So that’s OK then.

3) “Everyone who dies of malaria dies because of Rachel Carson, because she got DDT banned”

Fact: DDT has never been banned for use against malaria. Rachel Carson only sought to get DDT banned for use as an agricultural pesticide, partly because that use made it less effective as an antimalarial drug. Everyone serious in the malaria field accepts that this is the case, even the ones who aren’t hippies.

On the plus side, the superb Reactionary Snob has also been drafted in. Hopefully he’ll address the balance a little…

Update: commendably, Carpsio was extremely quick to correct post #3. No sign as yet on the maternity pay one…

[*] libertoonian = someone who became a libertarian because they’re grumpy about how the Metro says their tax money is wasted and hate politicians, rather than because they believe that political theory and history shows a minarchist state is the best way to maximise the general happiness of the people.

I lied about the future earlier

July 14, 2008 Leave a comment

Sorry – this is actually why the future was invented (mildly NSFW).

Double first

July 13, 2008 Leave a comment

This week I’ve seen the best cartoon parody ever, and an entirely new concept in music video.

Scarily, they’re both made by the same fat Australian political activist. Good work Mr Ireland.

Jumping in slightly late

July 12, 2008 4 comments

On the grounds of ‘what goes around comes around’ [*], as well as on the general grounds of free speech, let me join the chorus of people supporting slightly demented Decent Left blog Harry’s Place in the libel suit that Hamas UK brought for calling them antisemitic.

Normally, calling somebody antisemitic is a pretty horrible libel and one of the few uses of the libel law that I’d suggest was justified; however, in the case of an organisation whose manifesto states that “the Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews…The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him“, it’s pretty much a fair cop…

[*] a long time ago, far away; if you don’t know, you don’t need to know.

Word cloud

July 11, 2008 Leave a comment

From these fine people, here is a word map of this site. It’s kind-of cool – excerpt here:

Banditry wordle

“People”, “knife”, “crime”, “statistics”, “public” and “law” seem to be pretty high up.

Since the main point of this blog is to use stats and logic to highlight when general commentary on a major issue is wrong, I guess the main lesson is that commentators at present are more outrageously wrong about knife crime than finance or transport.

Which, given the appallingly low quality of finance and transport coverage, is a bit disturbing.

(via)

On why society is basically doomed

July 11, 2008 5 comments

Sunny has a good piece on Commentisfree on the knife panic – worth a read. Apparently the original version linked to this post here, but the Guardian subs took it out – bad Guardian subs.

Unfortunately, the comments indicate why we’re never going to get anywhere with the criminal justice system, other than locking up more people for being black and scary with no discernible benefit to anyone – the complete and utter cognitive dissonance of the public on the issue.

This is a shining example:

On the issue of violent crime per se, the statement that Sunny made that ‘overall violent crime has decreased by 41% since a peak in 1995′ is not believable.

Sunny, never understimate ‘common sense’. People have a fairly good idea of what is going on around them ….

Nonsesne. Common sense is the most overrated tool in the box and the cause of most stupid actions; and people have absolutely fuck all idea of what is going on around them. If you trust some random members of the public over the wider body of academic research on any issue, then you’re almost certainly wrong and definitely an idiot.

Unfortunately, most people on most issues trust random members of the public over the wider body of academic research, because most people aren’t very bright. Never mind that the conclusions it leads them to are entirely wrong; at least it saves them having to think…

This is why the future was invented

July 8, 2008 2 comments