The Tragedy of the Railways

I went to York at the weekend by train, and visited the National Railway Museum. (It’s fantastic, by the way, if you like that kind of thing.) But what it really made clear is what a wonderful we used to have in the National Railway system, and what a sad and fallible thing we are […]

When all you have is a hammer…

…everything looks like a nail. I took this for another purpose entirely-illustrating the grotesque overuse of the normal distribution in finance, as it happens-but I like it so much it is going up here.

Another triumph for America

If I ever need a hip replacement, I hope they give me whatever Floyd Landis is getting. It would be rather good to win a stage of the Tour de France. Postscript: it appears I wasn’t wrong in the implication here. See this for the breaking news.

Not the first formula you’d pick

Formula One is boring. It used not to be, but it is now. There’s no overtaking, innovation is mostly concentrated in aerodynamics (which you need a wind tunnel to appreciate) and tires (which are anyway supplied by one of two companies). Moreover how you are treated depends on who you are – Schumacher and Ferrari […]

Zizou the pawn

Much of the media furore over Zinedine Zidane misses the point. It doesn’t matter if you love him or hate him, think he is a talented footballer, a shining example of cultural integration or merely a yob. What matters is his visibility. If we want children to take away the lesson that it’s OK to […]

You still know best Tony

The energy review, to no one’s surprise, has concluded that nuclear power is now economic. How could one possibly know? In order to make that determination, you need to know how much it costs to decommission a nuclear power station and store the waste. The former is tricky: you are estimating the cost of a […]

The resolution wars

Digital cameras are not high enough resolution yet. What, I hear you cry, you can buy 12MP for under a grand now. Well, yes, you can. But that’s not enough. The problem is that this particular game is set up for standard sized photographs. 5 inches by 7, say, or perhaps a little larger. Big […]

Ten pounds each for Albert

Look at this delightful (or hideous, if you have similar taste to me) structure. It’s the Albert Memorial. Now riddle me this. This edifice was recently restored, at considerable cost: over £10M. As a Londoner, would you have put a pound in the box to renovate it? As a visitor, would you have paid £10 […]

Performance Enhancing Lawyers

The cyclists who came second, third and fourth in last year’s Tour de France are implicated (although not convicted) in a doping scandal. Yet the winner has just won a libel victory against the Sunday Times for suggesting he wasn’t clean. Let’s just think a moment: Lance Armstrong was competing against the best cyclists in […]

Publish and be redeemed

Helpful and encouraging news on open access scientific publishing (Deus ex macchiato, ibid) from today’s Guardian: The push for open access to publicly funded academic research was boosted yesterday as an umbrella body supported placing subscription journals’ articles on the internet for free… The Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the […]