Monthly Archives: January 2017

Delightfully simple, or far too difficult?

where-we-export-to-graph_0Having  listened to a great deal of commentary about the complexity attach it on to the Brexit negotiations, I have come to the conclusion that there are two separate projects underway, one which is comparatively straightforward and the other being very complex.

The straightforward project is leaving the European Union. As the Prime Minister has said “Brexit means Brexit”. And so the answers to all sorts of questions ought to be very easy Continue reading

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Quiz VII

quiz-viiSame general drift as Quiz VI.  But the answer is not the same . Oh Continue reading

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Quiz of the Day VI

quiz-viNo one was able to answer Quiz V. So I have made this one dead easy.

What is denoted by this map? You have to click on the image to run the animation.

I composed this largely to try out the new Excel mapping facility, which is quite fun.

To make it just a shade harder, turn off Continue reading

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Swimmingly Bad Lies

swimmingI have remarked before that the stock response to skin cancer – slap on more sun screen – actually causes more skin cancer, not less. A fact which is bad news for the huge industry of producing and selling the stuff, and so rarely reported.

Recently, there has been a spate of drownings in Australia. Predictably, the stock response – take more children to swimming pools and teach them to swim – is equally fallacious. See for example Good swimmers drown more often than non-swimmers: How openwater swimming could feature in beginner swimming Torill Hindmarch and Mats Melbye Norwegian Life Saving Society at

It is commonly said, “The best insurance against drowning is learning to swim”. But the figures tell us something else. While approximately two-thirds of those who drowned where considered ‘good swimmers’ (2), almost all drowning accidents take place closer than 15 meters from possible rescue and more 50% closer than three meters from possible rescue. Why couldn’t they swim to safety?

One might assume that good swimmers to a greater degree engage in water related activities, equally, the figures say nothing about how many survive due to good aquatic skills. Figures from a Survey made by Norwegian Swimming Federation indicate that only a half of the Norwegian population can be classed as ‘competent’ swimmers. Combining these figures one can conclude that learning to swim in fact doubles the risk of drowning.

Research shows that certain age groups and genders have a higher incidence of drowning. It also shows that although it is no significant difference between the self estimated aquatic skills and the real aquatic skills, in the exposed group there was a low estimation of the risk in specific situations (3).

The reason is not hard to see. Non-swimmers do not go swimming. The better swimmer a person is Continue reading

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Seriously Obese Cats

fat-catsI am no believer in the notion that Jack is always as good as his master. Just occasionally, he might be. But far more often, the captains of industry are smarter, have trained more and now work harder than most. I have no problem with them earning, say, 20 times what the person sweeping the floor in their business earns. Or even 20 times what their average employee earns. As my old friend Will Hopper noted in his excellent book The Puritan Gift, that was pretty normal among the great companies of the Western World as they were becoming great.

But 200 times? No. That is obscene. No one needs 200 times. Not only is it grossly unjust, but it is bad for business. But it is happening, in the USA, and also in the UK. The Spectator Continue reading

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Ivan would have been Terrible

ivan-rogersThe resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK’s ambassador to the EU is both welcome and appropriate.

This is not criticise his professional abilities. But to have a Remainian in post during the Brexit negotiations would be like having a fascist as PM during WWII, or a communist as head of MI6 during the cold war, or a member of the KKK in charge of race relations.

We need as our ambassador someone who wants in his or her heart to get on with Brexit, and to do it promptly, properly and thoroughly.

A particularly striking need for the UK to escape the EU emerged a week or so ago from the Government’s consultation document Technical consultation on motor insurance: consideration of the European Court of Justice ruling in the case of Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav d.d (C-162/13). It does not sound very exciting, but it is a real Continue reading

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