405 - Summer Snippets | Scoins.net | DJS

405 - Summer Snippets

Summer sippets didn't happen. Basically, I've lost interest in writing quite so often. Why this is, I am uncertain.


1. I'm doing a lot more running and I'm doing it early in the day. I'm spending more time doing puzzles, which time would otherwise have been spent writing on here.

2. The political situation is that we're waiting for an election. Trust in politicians is at, we're told, an all-time low (check, evidence?). As I wrote on the half-year header page (and I notice now that already I should be writing in the later half-year), this government feels like a place-holder. we have, daily it seems, evidence of badly informed spending, appallingly short-term decisions and a legion of public declared decisions that are in direct opposition to those words said while campaigning for Brexit.

For example, there is to be a relaxation of the regulations over water pollution as caused by house-building. At the moment, any increase in polluting effects caused by the building of additional property is to be mitigated by the developer. Which means they buy that mitigation from the new businesses offering that. This is consistent—or at least not in direct opposition to—the declared aim to have eco-virtuous rules of our own, obviously in excess (superior) to those in the EU we have left. Relaxation of this regulation makes house building less expensive (the mitigation doesn't occur and so isn't paid for) but moves the requirement to improve our waterways (for example, but the obvious place where damage occurs to run-off from new build) to somebody else – which we are learning, is quite obviously not the government, but Somebody Else. Who shall be Blamed and Shamed as often as possible; scapegoats may apply for frequent employment.


Discovery: that parkrun age-grading is based on a single figure per age. 

The collection of details to the right is an extract of parkrun times for me in time order. Age grading shows in the last column; the bottom two lines show the same time, 22:39 and same percentage, 76.97%, one month apart. Higher up there are adjacent rows with 77.08% and 22:37, nine months apart and, near the top, two at 22:31 and 77.42%, six months apart. My conclusion here is that, whatever figures are used to calculate age grading, they are fixed for the whole of the year that the system recognises you as being that age. I do not guarantee it gets the date of age change immediately correct. I think the system may only be using your birth month.

Next, justified to the left, are my most recent results in date order, with an age-category change at the end of August. Please look at 2nd September (event #265, 22:28, 78.49%) and 5th August (event #261, 22:29, 77.54%) One second different and, effectively a whole 1% change, 0.95% in this example. Events #259 and #261 show that ten seconds is 0.57% difference, so one second is about 0.06%, which leaves most of 0.9% of the 1% differencve across a birthday only explained by that age change. I'm using 1% a year as my rough rule for decay with age. The upper of these tables shows events #59 and #256, equal times of 22:30, five years difference (five birthdays different) and 3.63%, 0.73% a year if decay is constant, which it is not at my age. Age-grading is calculated on the world record at any particular age, smoothed a little to remove outliers; the decay around my age is not linear nearer 0.5% per year at 65 and increasing by 0.1% each year to 0.9% at 69.

Now I direct your attention to the top two lines of the second table, runs #265 and #266, with 44 seconds change and 2.48% change; this implies that each second is between .05 and .06% difference in age-grading, that 18 seconds is a whole one percent. Having run relatively quickly (for me) in run #265 I was hoping for similar things in run #266. 

The day was hot, 25º at 09:00 and humid, so that sweat didn't cool one much at all. I was pretty disgusted with my time and was blaming the weather rather than taking responsibility for a bad night's sleep. 

So I went to look at the SSS scores, expecting them to show that #266 was declared to be somehow harder. To my surprise, the SSS went down from 3.2 to 2.6, (see right) declaring #266 to be easier.  My time for #266 was the slowest since #236; run #240 was the last time I was over 23 minutes, so #266 classes as Bad or Slow.  Now, SS scores are based on the behaviour of those who run on the day compared with their average performance; there were quite a few of the regulars off to Tyneside for the Great North Run and there were several other races on that day, but SSS depends on comparing who attends with how they usually run, so it doesn't matter who wasn't there. Which menas that the consensus result says that, despite the heat and humidity, this was a good day for running. Repeating, the general trend was 'better than usual', which makes the wife and I in the contrary group. In turn that means, probably that it was the late night that did the damage, not the weather.

So I'm looking for an improvement in run #267, as is the missus. We were both 45 seconds down on what I'd call the 'hopeful' time rather than an 'expected' one.

You can look this stuff up yourself very easily. Find a parkrun results page, pick on a runner (most people are looking at themselves) and click on the runner's name. This gets you (pretty immediately) to results for just that runner. Options just above the tabulated results include choices of all results or summary results. Most tables from parkrun are sortable in every column, so you can fiddle very easily. For example, my fastest parkrun was at Whitley Bay, seven and a half years ago, but still one of my very best on age-grading, with Blackpool #265 right next to it; I only have ten times given 78% and they're in three year pairs, 2014/5, 2017/8 and 2022/3. My mean is 75%; I discount the two slowest times 35:13 and 25:57 because I walked those and that fast walk beat several poor days on a hilly course in Stockport. So, for me, a bad day is under 71% and a good day is over 77% - suggesting a median performance of 74%, against a mean of 75%. Yes, you're right I could graph these for a distribution.

DJS 20230913 

top pic: me doing parkrun, in an empty space, so I'd assume this is in the last kilometre.




I have been challenged to write the sales blurb for an imaginary residence such as one from a fable, such as the Three Bears' cottage or Eeyore's lean-to. At the moment, none of these appeal because surely one wants to have enough detail available to make the blurb have sufficient content. So the house for a detective such as Vera or Morse or Holmes (who rented, I think) makes sense to me. Maybe a set of three, previously owned by porcines?

We are pleased to announce the addition to the market of a splendid opportunity for the discerning buyer. This is a substantial piece of land which includes an award-winning residence. The beautifully situated house, as detailed below, stands in an expanse of mixed land, including a substantial stand of trees and a small quarry supplying sand. The vendors have been caused to relocate since their building business failed and a quantity of materials suitable for the addition of outhouses are left onsite.

The land—please see the attached site map—covers around 4 hectares. There is around 0.5ha under trees, some of which were felled for use in an experimental timber building. At lakeside there is a shallow broad inlet with a small and attractive beach. This beach is backed by a semi-circle of small cliffs and the amphitheatre formed had a prefabricated building whose foundations failed in Storm Wolff earlier this year. We have been given to understand that outline planning permission has been given but, this being a conservation area, interested parties looking to develop the land are strongly encouraged to discuss building plans with the local Inspectorate in advance of making any offer.

The award-winning house is a substantial two storey building with three good sized bedrooms with views of the grounds in three directions. Sizes are marked on the attached floor plans. There is a large bathroom, complete with the modern answer to all bathing needs, a wallow. On the ground floor there are three reception rooms and a farm-house style kitchen. Interested parties will be provided with the surveyor’s report on the state of the building following Storm Wolff, which indicates remarkably little damage to the roof and exterior surface details. The RIBA award for improved design was granted after the storm, which underlines how reliable this construction is.


Room details, blah blah

Outside there is a small walled garden currently filled with herbs. There is sufficient hardstanding for three vehicles, plus a larger hard area, on the side not overlooked by the upper floors, which the builders used as their yard.  A fast fibre internet connection is arranged through B4RN. The EPC rating is B and the council tax band is D.

Interested parties wishing to view should contact us at enquiries@HuffnPuff.com    Given the damage caused by storm Wollf, this presents an exciting prospect. We have several other properties that survived Wolff's predations.   But of course we would say that.

  400 words, maybe exactly.                                                                                                                                     DJS 20230904


One could be amused or seriously dismayed at the state of democracy in the US. Even as we in the UK are seeking terminal boredom in the hope of accidentally finding competence, so the US seems to be polarised around Trumnp and Biden, with immense amounts of hate spilling in all directions. I have wondered if there are nudges from other nation states or whether even if possible, they woudl be completely unnecessary.

Public opinion has polarised, as evidenced by the statement Approximately 80% of Republicans believe the Georgia indictment over election-rigging is politically motivated, compared to about 20% of Democrats. We complain in the UK about our biased media, but the US bias is far stronger; the word one might use to describe their media is partisan. Biden is trying to keep out of the case—politics and justice are supposed to be well separated, though I've long thought this a grey area over there, greyer than over here. Trump remains a losse cannon and, despite the sentences handed down to the front men over the 6th January (the assualt on the Capitol), the rhetoric has not softened. The question asked is whether Trump will in any way be penalised, irrespective of wrongdoing. The Republicans could easily bring this whole mess to some sort of halt, but there seems to be a consensus that his behaviour is in some way what they want to preserve, almost as if he represents bahaviour they wish to be able to use at will. 

The right to free speech is weakened in the UK from the fear of offence and with long-running campaigns for truth, honesty, integrity and probity we are reaching a time where public statements rarely even address a question posed. Anything said with strength is immediately howled down by whichever interested party can find enough outlet to be heard. Which drags us down, repeatedly, so that nothing gets done. We need a solution and it needs to be political. 

Meanwhile in the US of A that same right of free speech means that publically lying has become acceptable. Trump is but an example, though used as an exemplar. Fox News is openly biased. This leads us to pollls showing worryingly high levels of support for political violence, with as many as 30% of Republicans believing that taking up arms for a political cause could be justified. There is no easy way for this to end well. 

Suppose Trump is convicted and even jailed; he then becomes some sort of martyr and we can be sure that his publicity will continue unabated. I cannot see any acceptable route for him to be silenced. Until the USA cleans up its media and/or the ease with which misinformation and disinformation is perpetrated—propaganda—there is no available solution.

The UK is only marginally better. Johnson, our version of Trump, has shuffled off to make money. The Truss premiership was awful and gave us another expensive lesson; this may be suffificent nudge for us to agree that we need to be able to trust politicians to be boring and safe and, eventually, marginally  trustworthy. If that doesn't happen I can see swathes of the population deciding that politicians are worthless. How extreme apathy needs to be before the politicans themselves clean up their collective act, I have no idea. They quite clearly rarely represent their constituents; they represent the party members who bend their ears and the rich who buy access and, one often suspects, effectively buy opinions and attitudes. I remain confused how we have 'a business vote' and I'm increasingly certain that we, too, need to clean up our politics.

What I think we need is for the funding of politics to be drastically changed. I strongly disagree with the idea that an MP can hold down other jobs and, while I've previously felt is useful that an MP might also be a practising professional such as a medic, teacher or lawyer, I now think that their political work should be sufficiently demanding that they cannot do anything else but fill the political role. They cannot be company directors (more income) and I don't think they can be allowed to waltz straight from MP to such posts, so there has to be some gardening leave equivalent. I think we need for our politicians to be transparently open and provably honest. I also think they need to be granted some private life. I would hope that, by stifling the access of the rich (companies quite as much as individuals), MPs might come to listen to their constituents but most of all to begin to understand. 

I have an invitation—today, I realise— to go talk with or listen to my own MP this morning. I've met him and was convinced very quickly that he cannot hear any more than he can see. I shall not be going.

Our currrent government and out next government have serious difficulties in financing what needs to be done. Many years of shoving responsibile actions off to the future are coming home to roost. Which we have seen, repeatedly and implies a need for more radical reforms. The Conservatives laud what they call small government, small state spending and reduced taxes. That sells to the voters who are persuaded they'll have more of their own money to spend. What happens instead is that the functions of state are sold off, one way or another, so that all that really happens is that the state spending shifts to more nearly consumer spending. For example, in selling off the water companies vast sums have been issued as dividends on shares when (mosat of, say I) this very same money should have gone to maintenance of the network. The regulator is politically controlled, whatever we're told, so we move steadily to a failed water supply that, when we get around to fixing it, will still be paid for by the consumer. So those dividends came out of our pockets and went elsewhere, quite possibly off shore - in what way did the customer get any value from this? If we were to nationalise the water companies again we're still immensely out of pocket. We've had the same happen to public transport so that one result is we use the roads at a time when we need, thanks to screwing up the planet not just the economy, all to be travelling less. We could, but be won't. 

we have very much the same close to home for all of us as our local councils are going bust. For several reasons; steady demand from central governemt that they deliver statutory services on steadily less funding; becasue of this many assets have been sold off and continue to be sold off. Where borrowing has occurred, the sudden shift in the financial climate means that the cost of borrowing has gone from insignificant to utterly unmanageable. Yet again, starving the system of money is coming home to roost.

The recent fuss about RAAC, failing concrete beams, is just typical. Notice has been shared since the mid-nineties that we have a problem, that this cheap construction rewuires maintenance and, where maintenance has been skippled, replacement. But no, what has happened is that schools, very like couuncils, have been financially stressed to the point where nothing is done. I notice that it is worth wondering who owns a school site and in consequence to wonder who owns any building. In consequence, to wonder quite who has been failing to spend and whether we have more of the water-company dividend game. Whatever, we're in the same position generally, we're going to have to stump up the money from somewhere and that means we the public will end up paying for it. Somebody somewhere has made profit, and I'm pretty sure it was not Joe Public.

 What scares me in the political sphere is that, whatever the next government does to rectify matters, the opposition will be screaming about the costs, where whatever results are achieved will be irrelevant to their argument. Which will have the desired effect and they'll be re-elected with the guarantee that we return to the feeding from the trough.  I'd argue for us leaving the country, but I don't see anywhere significantly less bad. We actually need a revolution.

Could that occur without bloodshed, I wonder? I want to go green and I want to be able to go green. I am convinced that we don't need so many people, that we don't need to always have economic growth and that we are in many ways using very much the wrong measures for success. We're going to lose the planet because we're so much more interested in being ahead of the other rats. Worse, the more people who see this, the more that the folk who're left see only more Advantage coming their way. 

Short-term thinking is very bad when one needs long-term effects.

This is not going to end well.




We're about to enter party conference season. Would you, if involved, want to air ideas in public, giving you opponents time to bring down any and every good idea? I don't think so. Given our recent political history, I'd want the party to look safe and electable, to get the biggest possible workign mahjority and only then to wheel out the ideas. Which would mean that the manifesto(s) of thsoe who thy they might actually be elected will be remarkably short of ideas. At best, a royal commission for this or that. But what we need is not more study but the study to have been done and action to occur. Anything less means that the very next election will undo any good work. We need the soft revolution that breaks the chains holding us back. While I never wanted Brexit, we did the stupid thing and now we have to make it work. But with brains, not stupidity.




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