Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Foolish Bet

I have bet Justin ('ejh' here, @ejhchess on Twitter) FIVE POUNDS STERLING to his 6 Euros that Hillary Clinton will have resigned her position as Secretary of State by Jan 1 2011, or announced when she is going.

He wanted me to announce it here, so I am doing so. It's a very foolish bet for me, but it'll add some spice to watching the news over the next god-awful month.

I should have taken odds. 5/1 seems about right. Still, in my favour, there have been calls for Assange's assassination (on British soil! we're not that poodle-ish, I hope) and Julian Assange's lawyers say they are being watched. This should generate a backlash. I worry that all hacks are now so spineless and used to (barely) editing press releases that there won't be.


Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

12/06/2010 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Very good point, yes. I don't expect to win; I may get more than a fiver's worth of fun from hoping, though.

12/06/2010 06:13:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

She seems to be only 6/1 to be the Democrats presidential nominee next time round, which I would have thought would be a shorter proposition than her resigning:

2012 Democratic Presidential nominee odds sponsored by BetUS Sportsbook

Winning Candidate Moneyline
Barack Obama -750
Joe Biden +800
Hillary Clinton +600

12/07/2010 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Well she announced that she wouldn't be seeking any further political positions shortly after the wiki-leaks announcement.

I can't see her resigning though. Being fired, yes. Resigning, no.

12/07/2010 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

that 'league of democracies' idea is being floated again...

no way obama could fire Hillary. she has a big support base within the party...

12/08/2010 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Actually I'd have gone with "No way can Obama fire her as he's absolutely spineless."

I can't see him firing her at the moment, but given the woman has the diplomatic instincts of Attila the Hun I wouldn't say never.

12/08/2010 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I'd have gone with "No way can Obama fire her as he's absolutely spineless."

quite, if he had much of a backbone he wouldn't have apointed her in the first place, given what a loose cannon she is.

12/09/2010 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

If he sacks her I'll count that as a resignation.

Actually, if she's fatally injured by a meteorite I'll count that as a resignation too.

12/10/2010 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick does something other than being a total cunt for once.

12/13/2010 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Apart from channelling the Spectator in the first 5 words:

Behind the far-left yobs ...

Firstly not all the far left are yobs, secondly not many of the "yobs" on display were far-left.

12/13/2010 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yeh, there's not much to argue with there. though it would have been nice to see him write such a piece before the vote.

Equally, in a way he underplays just how radical these plans are. They're nort even really part of the govt's cuts, which our Nick seems ot paint them as...

12/13/2010 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I agree that it's a relatively good piece from Nick, but his style still annoys me.

Behind the far-left yobs, who disgrace every good cause in Britain, the protesters who did not riot in Parliament Square on Thursday looked almost pitiable.

Has he modelled himself on Tolstoy such that he things that a great work needs a timeless opening sentence which will imprint itself on the reader and be quoted by all the best wits down the centuries? I hate the opening of Anna Karenin[a] too, because I think that's Platonist rubbish.

I don't share Nick's tastes, so I can't be understood to speak for him, but I think that Amnesty International is a good (and left-wing) cause (and surprisingly endorsed by Norman Geras here). Nope, can't see how it's spoiled by 'far-left yobs'. Even if I bought the Gita Sahgal line, surely Taliban supporting misogynists are by definition right-wing. Children in Need is a good cause. Nick really does know better than to make sweeping generalisations which are self-evidently false. This also reads like boilerplate Nick: several of his fetishes are touched in the first clause - 'good causes' (ie idealism vs dirty realism), Britain (as if it were somehow unique, and not very much like every other country), 'far-left' (nuff said). It's pure Craig Brown.

Now I'm hating on that opening, I'll move on to 'almost'. Nancy Banks-Smith, who was a much better writer than the Guardian appreciated, mentioned in an aside once that Henry Ford actually said, "History is mostly bunk." The 'mostly' is, pardon me, mostly forgotten; it damped the resonance and surety of the rest. Besides, someone who is 'almost pitiable' is, logically, not pitiable.

I haven't even mentioned 'behind' yet and that bugs me even more. There was a very good write up of the protests by a Yahoo journalist. I wasn't there, so I don't know, but if there was a 'front' at the protests - where I suppose the protestors met the police lines - it was composed of the non-yobs (I can't speak for their politics). The vandals were somewhere in the middle of the kettle, well out of baton wielding range.

There's another meaning to 'behind' of course (apart from that one! what are you, three?) - Nick seems to suppose that the 'far-left yobs' constituted the leaders or at least those who would carry the flags and beat the drums in the vanguard, while the miserable peasants shuffled behind. I think this greatly misunderstands the protests: those there didn't need their consciousnesses raised. They didn't need to be led. I'm probably projecting here, but Nick seems stuck in a Menshevik-Bolshevik timewarp.

This is why I'm glad Aaro Watch is over. I'll say it again, I hate the way Nick Cohen writes.

12/13/2010 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

BTW, I may write something about paywalls on here. Not really on-topic, but it does seem to exercise David Aaronovitch greatly. He's argued about this with Ben Goldacre on Twitter today, and I think he has a good point, which is "why should you enjoy his work for free?"

[Pause] I was going to say that DA was being very brand-loyal here (as is BG). The Times is behind a paywall, DA works for the Times, and he is publicly defending his employer's policy (unlike Caitlin Moran). But DA is more complex than that. He's had a few spats with Dan Davies (aka D2, d-squared, Bruschetta Boy, etc) on Twitter over the past few days, but he does read criticism and he does come back. I think he likes arguing - and this may explain his apparent fallings-out with erstwhile Guardian colleagues.

Of course, I may not write it at all, or write it but deem it unworthy of publication (no, that can never happen).

12/13/2010 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

"why should you enjoy his work for free?"

Eh? Has Aaro never watched ITV then?

12/13/2010 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

That largely anticipates my argument, Justin. However, Rupert Murdoch seems keen to take his broadcast media off free-to-view and put it behind subscription walls. Someone has to pay, sometime: that's not in doubt. I can't believe paywalls are the way to do it.

12/13/2010 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

As far as I'm concerned Murdoch has every right to do that if he wants: come to that, if AW or the Streatham and Brixton Chess Blog wanted to do the same, that'd be their right too.

But the point is, of course, that there's nothing particular exceptional about seeing somebody else's work for free. There's not really a right to do so, but it's normal, everybody understands the model that this entails and moreover, it's the standard model in all sorts of media. It's not exclusively the model - plainly, in television for instance, there are others that are significant, but it is quite normal and Aaro must understand this very well.

12/13/2010 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I think you're right: it is normal, and it's the only way to have influence. Especially as I regard the Murdoch empire as largely a propaganda machine. I'm sure Aaro does understand this very well: and I think the economics of the net may put an end to star columnists. There will always be a sharp end of the power curve where a few sites/pages/writers get the most hits, but these are very vulnerable to fashion, as you can see from blog rankings. And of course, people provide internet content for free (we are here, for example, although FaceBook is the perfect example), which is bound to affect remuneration rates at some point. The paywall may be bad for the Times as the paper of record, but, for the moment, good for the financial health of D Aaronovitch.

I really came here to say two things: one the rest of Nick's opening paragraph, and most of his article is actually quite good. Why the subs left that first sentence in, I don't know. Dr Johnson agrees with Elmore Leonard: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

For fun: Daily Mail:

Except this time there is a different ‘enemy’ — one chosen by these Right-wing yobs specifically to­ provoke far more damaging and troublesome consequences.

"Right-wing yobs" FTW.

12/14/2010 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yeh, Nick can't avoid the stupid, bombastic statement, but once you get around that it's fine.

It's weird how some demos are allowed to still have valid aims and be populated by reasonable people even after a few people are caught doing stupid things on them, though. I mean, Nick thinks very differently about demonstrations whose cause he doesn't believe in - see 'we are all hezbollah now', etc etc.

Aaro's line on the demos is weird - apparently it's all the fault of the stewards, who have no authority over the marchers. and as someone on twitter said today, if you know in advance that there will be kettling (i still consider this ocmpeltely illegal) at a demo, then of course you'll break off from the planned route, to avoid it.

btw i have it on very good authority that, contrary to Aaro's claims, Browne looked very different before the tories got their hands on it.

I'd be a lot keener on the times paywall if it weren't for the fact that it seems completely incompatible with library systems, meaning that I've as yet not been able to access the TLS archive since the paywall was introduced.

12/14/2010 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Funniest comment ever.

12/15/2010 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Who is this Hoffman? Where can we get more of him? Why doesn't he cross post on Harry's Place? The man is a hero among defenders of Israel.

12/16/2010 06:18:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The Hoffman-HP Sauce connection is particularly amusing given their current hating on Julian Assange's mum because a march she organised but then cancelled might have attracted some far-right nutters. Of course, this is totally different form Hoffman marching hand in hand with the EDL... well, maybe not marching cos of his poor, poor foot.

I haven't read Private Eye for a while but I notice from the most recent issue that a conspiracy theorist is now known therein as an 'Assangist'...

12/16/2010 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Aaro's article is passive-aggressive central today, although pretty tame by "Baseball-bat the protesters" standards in the right wing press.

He comes out strongly against hitting students on the head with truncheons (Hooray!) and wonders whether we could use water cannon and tear gas, rubber bullets and some kind of toffee-firing glue-gun, which appears to have sprung from the pages of Catch-22. He also has a bit of a chortle about guns that fire beanbags, which is odd - the only ones that do this that I'm aware of is a SPAS 12 shotgun, and those are illegal in the US on account of being too bloody horrible even for the Yanks.

Ultimately, he decides that everyone should just calm down a bit instead, which is both a) pretty reasonable b) not really very practical. Plus, a sign-off about how much more tolerant we are of student violence than we are when the EDL does it, which is probably true.

Overall, not exactly populist stuff but definitely better than it could've been.

12/16/2010 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

OMG, OMG, OMG (fans self like a pre-teen girl meeting Justin Beiber) I TOTALLY love Jonathan Hoffman. He's adorable. He's perfect. I assume David Hoffman isn't a relation. He's a lovely man, and he must be the oldest demonstrator in town.

Words fail me (as so often, our regular reader sa): this will NEVER BE BETTERED.

And I didn't bother clicking the link on this page. Do you dare? Do you?

12/16/2010 07:07:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I do...

We are also determined to bring to an end the wholly unacceptable situation that sees many high-profile visitors from Israel threatened with arrest in Britain under the excuse of universal jurisdiction.

British laws should not be manipulated to threaten visitors to this country with arrest.

While this travesty continues, we do not have freedom of speech.


12/16/2010 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I forgot this link where I found the photos.

It was just ‘Another despicable ad hominem lie’ and it would appear that I have it in for JH personally!

This man's skin is about one molecule thick, and he's not paranoid. Oh no, don't say he's paranoid. Also, he didn't really flounce off Modernity's blog and then come back a few hours later.

From post linked above:

‘This is a Lie.’ he wrote on my blog. ‘Not the first one. You will take it down now. I shall be speaking to a lawyer.’
Jonathan Hoffman3 June 2010 11:24

12/17/2010 06:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and some kind of toffee-firing glue-gun, which appears to have sprung from the pages of Catch-22.

Try Minority Report instead?


12/17/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

What's the betting that Hillary (and a few other senior figures) have already taken down from their walls any photos of themselves together with Hashim Thaci?

Also, what would Aaro make of this?

Marty went on to say that some parts of his report document "open ties between organized crime and politics, including representatives of the government", and that he was "not guided by rumors, but described the crimes based on many testimonies, documents and objective findings".

"Finally, we arrived at the conclusion that these events were known to many intelligence services from many countries. This was known to the police, to a large number of people, who would privately say, 'yes, I am aware of that', but who, for the sake of political opportunism, would decide to remain silent," he continued.

"What has shocked me is that most facts in this report were known to a large number of organizations, and yet that there was silence about it until this day. I believe that a future of a country cannot be built without truth, without insisting on truth and memory. There will never be peace between various communities if the principle of 'not wanting to know' continues," Marty warned.

A conspiracy? Surely not.

12/17/2010 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

It may very well be in Minority Report, which would certainly make much more sense than Catch 22. Haven't seen MR since it came out.

For the record...

Yossarian sidled up drunkenly to Colonel Korn at the officers' club one night to kid with him about the new Lepage gun that the Germans had moved in. "What Lepage gun?" colonel Korn inquired with curiosity. "The new three hundred and forty four millimeter Lepage glue gun," Yossarian answered. "It glues a whole formation of planes together in mid-air."

Causes panic in the ranks, if I recall correctly.

12/17/2010 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Aaro might be talking about the Riot Foam from Judge Dredd.

12/17/2010 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I can't believe that either side really thinks that this will win 'em friends. The jeering drunks in my town centre do at least pass out.

12/17/2010 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

christ I used to live in that street overlooking that shop (it wasn't called Ahahva then though). I cannot describe how pissed off I would have been to have my Saturday morning hangover disturbed by either of those lots.

12/20/2010 09:47:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

I think I've previously mentioned this from the Hoff.
He did do this post for HP, though when I asked if his EDL friend would be along he declined to allow the question to appear, though he did respond in a somewhat irate way when I responded to his diatribe in the comments thread on this post (now gone of course in line with HP's apparent libel protection deletion policy) against Tony Greenstein if it was That Photo that upset him so much.

12/20/2010 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Can we have a rule against using Tiny URL for HP posts so I don't accidentally have to see them?

12/20/2010 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

1. yeah I dislike tinyurl. I want to be abke to see what I'm clicking on. It's not as if anyone types URLs so, except for Twitter I suppose, it's pointless.

2. I am FWIW finally satisfied that Nick Cohen and Ratbiter are one. (I would put a notice in the Times but who would read it?) The current Eye has a RB piece which is a slightly updated reworking of Nick's recent (un-plagiarism-worthy) tits-n-writs piece in the Obbo. A bit confusing because I'm sure someone (a Mr Curdplatter or something I think) said - apparently wrongly, I thought - that the then-current Ratbiter col was the same as that very same Obs piece. Eddies in the space-time continuum? Reminds me, (2.5) there's a Dirk Gently series-isation (subplots distilled into freestanding stories) on BBC4, which I can't decide if its quite good or not worth nothering with. Helps that I can't really remember the plot from the book.

3. Yeah, so what the bloody hell is going on with this EDL stuff? It's very astroturf, with e.g. some relatively quite sophisticated and evidently educated stuff (sort of faux-bloky graduate journo style) on its site. I really would rather not fritter away more credibility by voicing utterly vague suspicions, but I just keep thinking of the moment in GBH (Michael Palin, yawn) when the rabble-rouser drops his scouse accent. I dunno, anyone? There's the weird JDL alliance (not just arms-length axis it seems), too.

4. I see Aaro has been accusing AW's own DD of sounding like the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail (you know, the unheard-of slab of hokum that merits a whole chapter of Aaro's voodoo theories book). Is this a kind of ADL-Jimmy Carter moment for him, i.e. a sign that he's finally lost it, bought a bit too fanatically into his own bullshit, and is now going to start making an undeniable berk of himself? If so, hope this doesn't warn him off. Esp if that would in turn encourage him to continue colonising my airspace with his journeyman-presenter gigs on r4.

**If you are around, DD, what was it of yours about Assange, fit-ups, credence, etc that he'd read and backfiringly recommended? Where is it to be found?

Bloody hell, excuse garrulosity. Am in throes of particularly severe bout of procrastination.

12/21/2010 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

The EDL stuff is weird. Tony Greenstein says that Ha'aretz has been critical. Hoffman clearly doesn't care: evidence of the Israeli's press's atavistic left-wing bias.

Hoffman adds to the gaiety of nations. See this apology (the JC is too hard to search: 'Jonathan Hoffman photoshop' gives the same results as 'Jonathan Hoffman' so I can't link to the actual blogpost). Were I an editor, I'd consider that a firing offence. While I think Nick and Aaro are somewhat similar to me: Hoffman is like a mirror-image. Spock with a beard, or an evil Kirk. His writing style is very similar to Mad Mel's much trembling indignation, and a great fondness for the passive voice and hand-waving like "To many".

I accept the point re tinyurls inside anchor tags. I think they're fine for people who don't use HTML (I use them on blogs where all HTML gets eaten.)

I'll sort of defend Aaro's use of 'The Holy Blood etc': I think he was just using it as shorthand for 'a conspiracy theorist'. When Aaro is having an intentional dig, you know, as here. I, for one, didn't take it literally.

12/21/2010 06:44:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

The article I'd recommended to Aaro was Nate Silver's blog post on the Assange case. Eventually, I managed to get him to assign a numerical probability to the likelihood that Assange was the victim of a political prosecution; 1%.

12/21/2010 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

dd - oh, ok. I think he phrased something so as to suggest you'd produced something further on the topic.

12/21/2010 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I managed to get him to assign a numerical probability to the likelihood that Assange was the victim of a political prosecution; 1%.

This is a fine moment to remember that his methodology for dismissing a "conspiracy theory" is an intuitive sense of what's "likely" or otherwise. (Voodoo Histories, pg. somewhere near the beginning.)

12/21/2010 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Just had a look at that thread in toto, having finally got round to finding a halfway usable twitter thread aggregator (here; there is more at the bottom).

Given Aaro's desire to collapse 'implausible' propositions down to a token 1% (making use of 'the crowning achievement of historical study, a sense of how things don't happen' which he so modestly claims), it should be possible to get him into some pretty silly positions using Dutch book style manoeuvres.

Also, here:

You mean political pressure in Sweden cos Assange is high-profile (as against letting it go if no-one had heard of him)? No idea cos don't know with what alacrity they've pursued other extraditions for similar offences. Political cos the Swedes want to kiss US ass? 1%..

He does get the idea that some kind of attempt at informal statistics is going to be relevant to such a question - i.e. is a form of evidence. But it seems that for Aaro, his not having looked into such questions means 'there is zero evidence'.

Also note : Political cos US secretly leaning on them to do it? 1%. And that's generous where there is ZERO evidence.

In fact you might think in a situation with genuinely zero evidence you would most saliently ascribe 50% credence, not something very (but arbitrarily) close to zero (and close to 0 arbitrarily).

Now cruising at some altitude relative to Aaro's bonce, maybe the null-evidence 'indifference'-based prior credence doesn't matter, since presumably things would converge toward more realistic levels pretty quickly once a realistic amounts of evidence are added (is there even maybe some kind of Coase-like theorem here?).

The inductive-eclectic approach of adding various bits of evidence of varying type, generality, etc is going to see some pretty wild swings in the rational credence, though - i.e. an explaicitly probabilistic approach is still going to leave things highly contestable - it does at least preclude some silly tricks like the 'if you can't beat em, Occam' manoeuvre, or the 'talking out of your onus' fallacy.

12/23/2010 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

PS I don't think there is a Coase-like theorem there - at least not on a foundationalist,unidirectional approach to credence-updating. (and bidirectional edges would make a Bayesian net even more NP-hard, so to speak). I.e. the influence of initial credence would - at least in some cases - never be eliminated, only rounded off. In fact examples must be easy to construct, most obviously those with only small quantities of further evidence or at the limit none.

DD - why don't you get some of the number crunchers and logic choppers at DSD (or even CT) onto this kind of thing?

(in fact that was what I was hoping for when I misinterpreted Aaro's Just seen your latest re juxtaposing and information sets. - Which was the oddly the point at which he said You now sound like the writers of the Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Presumably mistaking things he doesn't understand for superstition, thus subtly misreading the advice of Stevie Wonder.

This request doubly impertinent since I'm not even able to specify very precisely what I mean by this kind of thing, but suppose am thinking vegauely that the application of probability to non-actuarial, historical sitns, i.e. those not involving largish datasets (correctly) presumed to be homogeneous, is not v well developed.

You'd think RAND and such types would have done stuff on this but if they have I haven't come across it in usable form - presumably either secret or well outside my price range for speculative book purchase.

(This procrastination lark is a piece of piss. Is there any money in it?)

12/23/2010 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Tick tick

12/30/2010 05:17:00 PM  

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