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Peter Fowler hasn’t won the lottery

Rural Racism


And a little song companion piece:

Donald Trump Medley

Peace to yanks everywhere,

Melancholy Woman

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Please enjoy it. Make the most of it. Fourth album on way,

Human Garbage

Not the best mix but whatever yeah.


Ada Lovelace

Come on now gentlemen get in formation, you could be the next Ada Lovelace in the making.


Inheritance Tax Threshold Harvesting

Detective Manners, short and fat, sat at a cup of coffee. Progressing slowly through the Metropolitan police he carried the air of disappointment that a lot of forty year old men who use internet dating algorithms do. He had been given a case by a particularly irritating boss that was going nowhere. A series of missing vagrants across London, had dissapeared in similar circumstances. His response to this was ‘obviously’. Spread out in front of him were a series of photographs from half way houses and veteran’s organisations. Resigned and bored, he pushed them away and looked up out the window. A smartly dressed but unusually wizened man walked past. Buzzing with an energy he hadn’t seen since his first day when a pranking senior officer told him he’d been given a murder case which turned out to be a call from a nice lady who had had a tramp use her doorstop as a toilet, he looked down at the photo on the top of the pile and knew immediately it was the homeless man. Cleaned up and besuited; but the man.

Throwing five pounds at the counter and grabbing his photographs he ran out the door and began to follow the man. He went to a rather nice looking off license and bought two bottles of wine and a cigar. He then crossed the street to buy some pornography and continued casually down a well to do street of terraced houses. He noted the address the man entered and returned to his car, a shabby minute little thing that made him look slightly bigger by virtue of the strain required to enter it but no less ridiculous. He returned to the street and resigned himself to a night on ‘stake out’. He had never done this before and therefore his only point of reference was a few American movies. He thought perhaps he should invite a ‘buddy’ but he had no ‘partner’ so merely mirrored the food consumption. Sitting alone in the sodium half light, in an oven of smells from Subway sandwiches and Peperami, he began to make his discovery. One by one, the pictures in his folder were beginning to be associated with well dressed faces. Manners became wildly enthusiastic and put on some Status Quo to celebrate.

Further investigations the following morning told him that the house had had a significant basement room built a year ago and that they had applied for permission to grant marriages. On returning to the premises in the afternoon, quite to his astonishment there was a funeral in progress. Feeling confidence like he had never felt before, Manners in an act of almost mad recklessness started walking towards the front door and rang the bell. A cartoonish butler appeared seemingly straight out of Wodehouse.

‘I’m here to pay my respects.’

‘Of course.’

Manners entered a champagne wake. A clashing combination of people from either end of the social strata were interacting quite freely. He noticed how the homeless chose to wear lavish, almost outlandishly aristocratic dress. While the hosts were much more casually dressed in golf shirts and slacks like international business elites do. No one successful enough to wear a T-shirt and jeans was present, but there was the odd pair of trainers. Choking on his champagne Manners then noticed the coffin contained the very man he had seen yesterday. At this point a priest entered the room and, surprises now compounding like water drowning a rat, said something which was not predicted by Manners.

‘We are gathered here today to witness the matrimony of…’

After completing the wedding of an elderly woman to an elderly woman, a great volume of bureaucracy took place. Then the priest continued:

‘Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.’

And the coffin was lowered into a furnace.

Six months later, Manners was a little fatter and still unpromoted. He had taken to reading romantic literature, watching Renee Zellwegger based romantic comedies and drink. He had been convinced the work from the start of the year was to be his finest moment but of course it was not. He had found no wrong doing. No law had been broken.

Romeo and Juliet production concept

Basically Romeo is an EDL thug and Juliet is from a wealthy Muslim family. Sparse staging with two microphones at the front and two coffins at the back with a white line down the middle. Proximity of social classes in an urban environment. A lot of speeches delivered to audience almost like stand up. A mixture of Islamic calls to prayer and Death Metal. Highly abridged down to an hour without an interval.

Capulet to be a successful business man who enjoys a liberal western lifestyle yet insists on a traditional family life. Romeo sneaks into party by wearing the full veil and meeting takes place when both unveil to do make up.

Need help. Would ideally like a young cast and a small studio space.

R x

Lies, damn lies, and a statistical analysis of multiplier effects in fiscal policy

I hope you have heard the old phrase ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’ otherwise the title may just seem a very odd thing to say. And if there is one thing I hate, it is odd things to say. I profoundly believe in the revolutionary act of saying things above doing things. I haven’t done anything for a very long time, but boy have I said some things. Things to absolve any sin. I have for instance a wonderful collection of sins which set my central object at beautiful counterpoint to the unfortunate. The devils!

A position on hypocrisy, which renders me the eternal un-hypocrite.

And yet I give myself away. Like a bad lute player improvising in solitude, she gives herself away in her accidents. Little slips structured like a language. We can’t help but give ourselves away in our prose. Is it non-sense or unsense or merely senseless and which is preferred? The three Ps: pornography, propaganda and profligate prostitution party. What if Aliens came down to earth and saw our ways and mores from the outside, what would these wise outsiders think? They have arrived, they are Islamic State and they are distinctly unwise. If there was a god and he had a son that would of course be an obscenity. But does this vulgar obscenity give us the possibility of the un-obscenity. Without it we have a necessary obscenity. A triangle on the floor. At one apex the UK tabloid newspaper The Sun, at another a gushing volcano of internet video pornography and at the other the hidden Islamic State propaganda. All forming a Penrose Tribar. A Borromean knot of Penrose Tribars. An intertwined mirror image. One impossible with any apex removed the other only possible with any apex removed. And as atheism sets itself in negation to god. So does Christianity, which with Islam forms this vulgar trinity. Each impossible without the other two. The monotheist, the anti-monotheist and the un-monothiest. We can have any two but not all three, or we can have all three but if any is removed the whole disintegrates. For the sake of animal humans let us hope it is the latter.

You and I are at war. You think I write for your comprehension like Orwell at his most mediocre. To flatter! To flatter you? Never. The lower upper middle brow of the lower upper middle class drosser. I wouldn’t treat you with such disdain. I mean to give myself away in a mess of vulgarity and pretension. Half formed ideas from half understood books half read and probably half written. The idea that prose “should” be easily understood and clear. Stephen Pinker’s style guide. Orwell’s five rules. I think my lifetime supply of sanity may be running a bit low. I won it on a scratchcard but I’ve been using it up too quickly.

Outturn vs projection. Lets put rocket boosters on jobs. The clarity of prose not making up for the complete lack of clarity of meaning. I’m lovin’ it. Sitting quietly on a bench with a far away look through a restaurant. Aggregate demand and planning Mrs Jones’ trip to Co-Op for milk. Call the dairy, work those cows. Employ another driver. But now the driver spent more in a restaurant. Start again. My own personal competence in a graph. Projected to grow with rocket boosters. Really filthy prose. Making the page stink. Held noses. Analysis “in” a graph. I am competent. Extremely competent. At producing bull shit clarity. Politics and the English language. Very sane. Increased productivity and increased employment with static GDP. Beauty in the contradiction. Automatic prose.

I love words! Indiscriminately. Anti-Semitic rants from drunken ruined men I love as much as total purity. Clear straightforward prose. Dear David, I am afraid I can no longer remain unemployed by you and will be showing up for work tomorrow. I fear that you have been denying multiplier effects intentionally. An iceberg of meaning under a clear sentence. Statistics are like Nietzsche: you can find a quote arguing anything as well as its opposite. Return to the beginning and repeat.

It all comes down to the brutal unpleasantness of “we”.

Collage 5

Aisha’s rebellion

She looked at the cookie and pondered her options. She knew that the scientists believed that rejecting the cookie displayed what they called ‘the ability to delay gratification which is strongly correlated with various metrics of success in later life’. She was unsure whether to remove the cookie and therefore internally confirm her lack of concern in their opinion about her or to wait until the second cookie was delivered and destroy both in a bitter act of symbolic violence. Since the second seemed to show a concern for her observers even in the negative she rejected it. Therefore, she removed the cookie from the weighted scale and put it on the floor. Then watching the camera focused on her, she carefully and thoroughly stamped on it.

Professor Red came in and looked disapprovingly at the empty scales. When he noticed the intensity of the stare pointed back at him he was taken by surprise and made a mark on his notepad.

‘Are you a stupid man?’

‘No’, said Professor Red emphatically and bizarrely quick.

‘Then why do you behave as if you are?’

‘I didn’t take the cookie.’

Aisha pointed at the spoiled cookie. Professor Red struggled to understand the consequences. A pause filled the room from the ground up until the professor struggled to breath above it.

‘Eat it.’

‘Excuse me?’

‘I’m not going to repeat myself.’

‘I’m not going to eat it.’


Smugly yet unsure the professor turned to leave and found that the door was locked from outside.

‘Are you instrumentally rational?’


‘Do you act out of rational self interest?’


‘Then eat the cookie or get struck off for using your position of power to molest a child.’

‘Excuse me.’

The professor waved at the camera and moved towards it, at which point Aisha jumped up and pulled the cord out of the back of it.

‘Why have you turned the camera off Mr Red?’

‘I didn’t, you did.’

‘Can you prove that.’

The old man started to panic and felt his heart murmur. A stabbing pain struck his chest and he slowly started to fall to the ground. Cold and unsympathetic, Aisha watched.

Finally, he was woken by a concerned nurse, and coughed up the last of the cookie. Aisha stood above him. She had visibly been crying and had a distinct bruise on her left arm.


Collage 4


Collage 3


A critique of pure falsification

Falsification is a necessary but not sufficient condition for determining scientific statements. Scientific statements are non-tautological and non-contradictory and falsifiable but the reverse is not universally true. Therefore the concept of falsification is totally insufficient. It does nothing to deal with the problem of induction. Of course scientific statements are falsifiable but that is a totally facile point of no use or consequence.

I don’t need five hundred pages to say that.

I, abstract

Over evolutionary history a given trait may be selected if it increases the chances of its transmission (a tautology at the heart of evolutionary theory (my summary of evolutionary theory is ‘what happens happens and what doesn’t doesn’t’)). As increasingly sophisticated mental processes develop, one might tie all the processes together and create a name for the whole. I claim that this I is then likely to be selected for.

A set of mental processes which can all relate themselves to an abstract summation of the totality of mental processes will be more likely to survive than disparate mental processes. Hence the illusory I might be selected for.

More interestingly, after the I has been transferred from the abstract notion of the individual as seen by an objective observer to the internal measure of the individual, it will so closely align itself with the individual’s self perception as to appear to precede the individual, indeed in some abstract sense it does precede the individual since it may be formally described as a symbolic representation of a set of mental processes which could be made to exist at any instant.

Could one set of rules which essentially encode the I appear to another set of rules to be the I, despite that set having necessarily a relation to the I. That might explain how a large set of instructions might describe a whole that self describes as one object in the form of an abstract I despite the fact that the I itself cannot be found anywhere within the code.

To summarise, can any attempt to create AI begin with the abstract notion of the I to an external observer which the AI will reference in almost every piece of code. For instance the I has an abstract totality of wants and at every stage processes must aim to maximise utility. In human evolution the I had to extend to offspring for obvious reasons. We may be forced to choose the exact scope of a new I. Might we define I in order to try to preference ourselves. The central want might be to maximise some relation to humanity. In order to design these wants we may need to look closely at our own desires and what I they might serve.

I call the central I I1 and there may be subsequent Is such as the physical body which holds I but they must all be subservient to the one abstract I.

This conception of the abstract I is consistent with the internal perception of lying outside the I. There is the appearance of free will that can be assigned to the abstract I. Likewise conciousness can be ascribed to it but none of those can be seen from the inside. They all appear to the individual in a form which can be described to the external observer. This abstract I necessarily leads to the concept of God since its description includes the possibility of being observed internally without permitting any aspect of the conciousness to observe it. This whole framework can lead to a new atheism in which the abstract I and abstract God form an abstract duality in the form of a symbolic couple. The misery of humanity is then to be given the abstract symbolic couple with an external appreciation of logic which denies the possibility of a non-abstracted I or non-abstracted God. One is faced with the forced choice of either denying their non-abstractedness and therefore being forced to create two realms or denying their observability to all observers and taking a step towards appreciating their non-material-reality. The reason I claim this is an advance is because the vulgar materialist might deny the possibility of the abstract simple square or the complicated I (nevertheless a type of shape). This idealist-atheism is essentially a form of stating the primacy of ideas. The strange tautologies and contradictions that result define a conception of the past philosophical struggles that I believe might have relevance to building actual thinking machines. They first must be given the delusion of existing, a state which must be passed through in order to exist.

Evolution has had to do philosophy heuristically over the eons. We are attempting to outthink a billion years of testing ideas, the sole measure of which has been – do they make you fitter? A model of Euclidean space and time can therefore be seen to precede experience in a Kantian sense, regardless of truthfulness. When Einstein denied the solidity of Euclidean geometry he made a new mind-boggling science. Might a similar leap be possible with AI?

Ha ha.

S’all jokes



Collage 2

in Peace,

The NHS: when statistics and politics collide

There are two key pieces of evidence to consider with regard to Jeremy Hunt’s recent handling of NHS management:

1) The original paper, which can be found here.

2) Jeremy Hunt believes in homeopathy. The man ultimately in charge of the NHS believes in homeopathy. (!)*

Combine the two and ask yourself if Jeremy Hunt has read the paper let alone understood it. There is a reason why people spend lives studying statistics. It isn’t straightforward. Let us consider the primary conclusion as stated in that paper:

“Patients admitted at the weekend are more likely to be in the highest category of risk of death.”

That is the first sentence of the conclusion. Consider this alongside the fact that the two days with the lowest number of deaths are… Saturday and Sunday. It is simple to understand why total number of deaths is not the most important measure. Do you think Jeremy Hunt would understand why?

A GCSE maths student might have heard the well worn truism ‘correlation doesn’t imply causation’. It seems self evident to me that mortality rates (the likelihood of dying within thirty days of admission but not within three days (as a toy problem ask yourself why the authors of the paper chose that seemingly bizarre measure)) will be dependent on patient behavior surrounding the causes of admission. To what end do we move elective surgeries from weekdays to weekends? If the aim is not to improve mortality rates for a given type of hospital admission (i.e. for a given patient, their likelihood of a positive outcome) then we have entered in to a world of truly Carrollian logic.

My central criticism of the paper is that removing those deaths within three days does not as they claim ‘confirm the robustness of the model.’ Rather it is arbitrary and statistically simplistic.

The second conclusion of the paper is:

“Patients admitted on Saturday or Sunday face an increased likelihood of death even when severity of illness is accounted for.”

That is of course more pointed, but ask yourself how the authors determined severity of illness. How would you do that without measuring outcome? Do you not accept as the ultimate measure of severity of illness that of likelihood of death? Alternatively, it is not a measure of severity of illness, it is severity of illness.

Crucially the author’s go on to state quite plainly:

“It is not possible to ascertain the extent to which these excess deaths may be preventable; to assume that they are avoidable would be rash and misleading. From an epidemiological perspective, however, this statistic is ‘not otherwise ignorable’ as a source of information on risk of death and it raises challenging questions about reduced service provision at weekends. Similar to our previous analysis, we have found that patients already in hospital over the weekend do not have an increased risk of death.”

My summary of this statement would be ‘its complicated, further study needed.’ Have you ever read an academic paper that didn’t have that conclusion? One final point about academic papers is that people churn them out. They are professionally obliged to publish as much as they can. Consider the volume of literature generated by the medical profession and wonder why one paper with vague conclusions surrounding widely available data has received so much attention. The attempt to fix a problem which is not understood by changing doctors contracts is therefore wilfully simplistic to the extent that one must question what other aims are being followed. Is there any meaning at all in the phrase ‘a truly 7 day NHS?’ It clearly doesn’t mean a 7 day NHS because that already exists. This whole debacle represents a new low in government debate.

Finally, and most contentiously, let us truthfully ask ourselves what the motives of government are. If you wished to dismantle the NHS would you perhaps intentionally instigate a strike as a means to devalue a profession and turn public opinion against it. The British people hate strikers and the government knows that. The doctors have made the crucial error of trying to argue rationally with politicians. They are bound to fail. This might explain their desperate lashing out, but only allows us to criticise their tactics not their argument. This final paragraph betray’s my personal prejudice but don’t lose your intellectual rigour and let it prejudice you against the principle arguments above.


*An exclamation point doesn’t seem enough.

As a further note regarding the paper, I wonder if the authors are broadly Bayesians or frequentists. At the risk of being offensive to doctors and biologists everywhere (one can only hope), perhaps you should have asked a mathematician to do this research.

The hypocrisy of marketising education

Have you heard the famous story about Thatcher visiting Oxford in the late 80s. Supposedly she asked a young woman what she was studying. “Norse literature,” the woman replied. To which Thatcher said, “What a luxury.” Is not the central promise of free market capitalism a little luxury?

I was thinking about this in light of the general move by government to turn universities into technical training centers. It occurred to me that this whole scheme is deeply anti-market. This pleased me given the right’s obsession with hypocrisy. Had I located a piece of deep seated hypocrisy within their ranks?

Allow me to explain. Let us consider the student as an ‘instrumentally rational’ consumer who seeks to ‘maximise utility’ (my attempt at producing a maximally vulgar definition of mankind). Surely it would be deeply anti-market to try to engineer a particular choice of subject. Is this not exactly what we see with the drive to disproportionately fund ‘STEM’ subjects (every government initiative must be accompanied by an ugly acronym)? If the market were functioning then surely technical graduates would be more employable and therefore technical courses more attractive to students and would have no trouble recruiting. Why then does the government see fit to control how university funding is directed to encourage ‘commercially useful’ subjects. Perhaps STEM graduates are preferable to governments because they lack the skills required to criticise governments?

Those of an extreme persuasion talk of the dismantling of the university. I’m inclined to agree. Ironically I believe the engineering of subject choice would worry Hayek himself. I stumbled across the following in The Road to Serfdom:

“The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”
Adam Smith.

Yes, that is Adam Smith I just quoted. The other deep hypocrisy is that while Thatcher had a scientific education, Osborne has none. What did you study Osborne? PPE. What a luxury. I find it fitting that a man who once bragged to a school child that he was good at maths because he ‘had an A level’ in it, is now lecturing the finest minds in all subjects about the importance of ‘Science’. I take ‘Science’ here to mean the subjection of the individual to industrial and economic strategy. The more quaint definition ‘the study of the natural world’ is of course regressive.

I recommend you reread CP Snow’s famous Two Cultures lecture and then move on to FR Leavis’ hilarious and ill mannered reposte (both available here). Leavis described Snow as a portent. I fear that what he portended is now with us.

The government is attempting an engineering of the market in degrees which is an attack on what Kant called ‘the public use of reason’. It is strangely Stalinist in its subjection of the individual to a ‘long term economic plan’ and it must be fought by anyone who believes an education should teach ‘the best which has been thought and said’. Perhaps the two cultures we are presented with are not the scientific and the literary but rather ‘the public use of of reason’ and ‘the public use of coercion’.

If I permit my most extreme mode to reveal itself, I am reminded of Socrates standing trial for corrupting the young. He defended himself by comparison to horse races which were popular at the time ‘you think they make you happy, but I make you actually happy’. The modern academic is similarly on trial. Of course employment is an important metric for any university but if you place intellectual rigour beneath employability you will end up with an uneducated population which might not be such a sane long term economic plan.

The invisible hand should be allowed to operate. Allow the student to choose her subject based on purely selfish motivations of her own choosing and without design she will become a truly useful member of society who can contribute to the public use of reason. The decision we are faced with is whether or not to agree with Chomsky’s bleak statement, ‘most education is just training in stupidity and conformity’.

I described the marketisation as a hypocrisy because it denies the existence of two markets. The market for buying graduates and the market for ‘buying’ degrees. All this so called marketisation is is a government colluding with the buyers of graduates to crush the free market in choosing what subject you want to study. How far are we from government control of degree prices to encourage useful and vocational subjects?

Finally, let me finish with a plea to prospective students: study what you want. Did Newton create a new world out of a desire to be useful? Did Einstein give us the deeply useless General Relativity so that we might more efficiently manufacture cheap consumable goods? Did Babbage give us the ‘innovation’ required to revolutionise the world economy out of a desire to ‘foster innovation and skills’? Education is a moment of civility in a lifetime of vulgarity, let us not sit by as our great universities are turned into state subsidized industrial research facilities. That it is the right that attempts this is a historical curiosity. That it is the left that finds itself protecting the individuals power to choose is a responsibility that cannot be shirked.

Your vulgar servant,

A Portrait of a Provincial Nobody

    Words and pictures from Raph Shirley, in humorous weblog form.

    Infecting the internet like so many glimmering tentacles
    ( ).

    He is a fictional character.

    Buy the book!