"Ah, glorious, glorious competence. How we’ve missed you."

The news of Timothy Geithner’s nomination as US Treasury Secretary was greeted thus. By who? Well, if it had been a headline from Daily Kos or Huffpo one might not give it a second thought.

But it was from no less an august source than The Economist.


Minnesota senate seat is a doddle for Al Franken….regressively speaking

For some reason, the Minnesota Senatorial recount is giving rise to extraordinary outbreaks of political anorakking.

First, we have the ongoing detailed discussion of actual contested ballot paper examples on the Minnesota Public radio site.

Now, Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight has, remarkably, gone to great lengths to present a regression analysis on the recounting so far and the potential outcome. Here’s a sample that gives you some idea of the level of the analysis:

Now, we can attempt to solve this equation at the statewide level. When we plug in a t of .499956 — Franken was picked on just slightly very less than half of the ballots during the initial count — we get a value for franken_net of .837. That is, Franken will gain a net of .837 votes for every 10,000 cast.

And the conclusion? Al Franken, the Democrat, will be an absolute shoo-in and win by a resoundingly clear margin of 27 votes out of 2,885,555 cast.

That’s a margin of 0.00094%.

……a doddle.

Blink and you miss the share rise: The BBC’s hysterical news coverage continues

We got pulverised with pulsating red “FINANCIAL CRISIS” graphs with shares going vertically downwards on the BBC News for weeks.

Now shares go up by 10% in one day and do we get a green graph with the arrow going upwards? (Sample helpfully provided below)

Do we heck as like.

It gets mentioned in one sentence by Robert Peston.

FTSE up 9.84%. Dow Jones IA up by 11% in 2 days. But, those poor people sitting round who worried about those pulsating red downward graphs hardly get told about it.

A month ago journalists were telling us all about the London inter bank offer rate (LIBR). Now it hardly gets a look in. That’s because it has dramatically fallen for three month borrowing (see graph below from http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/) so it’s no longer news. Instead we get hysteria about the chancellor’s borrowing.

So let’s briefly recap. First of all we’re told it’s a bank lending crisis. But that’s got better. So then it was a share crisis but now they’ve gone up – albeit for one day – and it doesn’t get a look in. Because now they’ve decided it’s a government borrowing crisis….or a government taxing rich journalists in two years time crisis….

It’s all a great reason to listen to Terry Wogan instead of Today and watch Emmerdale instead of the News.

Just the tonic

Her nibs arranged one of her little treats for me last night and got me a ticket to see Ed Byrne (below on You Tube) at Newbury Corn Exchange. Things have recently been rather hectic at work, coinciding with less than usually obsessive blogging, so this treat was very much welcomed.

Ed Byrne says what I would say if I was sufficiently articulate and could be arsed.

I feel I share a very similar inner spirit with him. I have seen him live three times and I am hooked on the man. He has a vulnerable exuberance which is quite mesmerising.

Last night’s show was made all the more fascinating by the presence a very strange heckler. She was sitting in the row in front of me. During the support act, Ben Hurley, an effortlessly masterly comedian from New Zealand, she made some very strange interventions. She told him off for making a joke about sex with sheep. “That puts paid to the second half of my act”, quipped Hurley. Even more staggeringly, when Hurley made a few observations about the “up front” nature of the American charcter she called out “Don’t be rude”.

“Dont be rude”. At a late night comedy performance? “Don’t be rude”.


Sarah Palin interviewed while turkeys are killed behind her

I didn’t think I would be blogging about Sarah Palain for a loooooong time. But, my goodness me, this video is so utterly bizarre that I just had to put it up.

As part of her Thanksgiving Day preparation duties, Palin went along to a turkey farm to pardon, yes pardon, a turkey (it’s a yank thing).

So far, so Alaskan humdrum. But then she is button-holed for a three minute interview by a local TV station. She stands giving the interview, coffee-to-go in hand, while the farmer continues to slaughter turkeys in the background – on camera. She carries on, oblivious to the spectacle, all smiley and “awshucks” as usual. How utterly bizarre. And how strange to pardon a turkey and then give international coverage to two its colleagues being killed!

One for “It’ll be alright on the night”.

PS The second one really struggles….