Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Jeremy Corbyn faces Harry Kane: Beard of the Year 2018 shortlist revealed

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2018 by telescoper

Owing no doubt to some form of administrative error I have made it onto the shortlist of Beard of the Year 2018.

Other contenders include Jeremy Corbyn, Moeen Ali, Idris Elba, Harry Kane, Prince Harry, Lenny Henry and some people I’ve never heard of. Still, I bet none of them has ever heard of me!

I know that many would consider it inappropriate for me to use this blog for gratuitous self-promotion and all I can say in response to that opinion is Vote for me!

P. S. I of course voted for Moeen Ali.

Kmflett's Blog

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release 1st December

Contact Keith Flett 07803 16726

Jeremy Corbyn faces Harry Kane: Beard of the Year 2018 shortlist revealed

The Beard Liberation Front the informal network of beard wearers, has said that after a public ballot the shortlist for the 2018 Beard of the Year Award has now been decided.

The public poll determined the top beard wearers who go through to the final Beard of the Year poll which opens on 1st December with the winner announced on 28th December.

The campaigners say that the shortlist comprises those whose beard has had a positive impact in the public eye during the year rather than the style or the length of the beard or the views of the beard wearer.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, we expect the result to be a close shave

For the first time this year the result…

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The Meaning of Advent

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2018 by telescoper

This morning I noticed that today is Advent Sunday.

For those of you not familiar with the terms used in the liturgical calendar, the word ‘advent’ is derived from the words ‘ad’ and ‘vent’, and it thus describes the season of the year in which people loudly express strong opinions about television commercials. For examples, see here.

There is, however, much more to this time of year than venting about ads. To my mind nothing sums up the true spirit of Christmas than this unicorn in pink lederhosen:

Hip Replacement

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2018 by telescoper

From this month’s Oldie..

A Good Deal of Brexit

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2018 by telescoper

The Irish media were full of Brexit last week, as are the British newspapers this weekend. The prospect of Theresa May’s daft (Shurely ‘draft’? Ed. ) deal being agreed caused a brief spasm of optimism in the currency markets during which the pound soared to the dizzying heights of €1.15 but when it became apparent what a dog’s breakfast the deal is, the £ came right back down again:

Notice that the BBC website article grabbed above (which was published on Thursday evening, 15th November) bears no relation to the reality revealed by the actual data. No change there then.

Anyway, regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve long considered it inevitable that the UK will depart the EU without a formal agreement having been put in place. The last couple of weeks have only strengthened my belief.

Given this, my only hope is that there is another period of false hope during which the pound rises just long enough for me to get a ‘Good Deal’ allowing me to move my savings to Ireland at a decent exchange rate. I missed the blip on Wednesday. I hope there’s another…

Uachtarán na hÉireann

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 29, 2018 by telescoper

To nobody’s great surprise, Saturday’s count saw Michael D Higgins reelected as President of Ireland by a considerable margin. His acceptance speech on Saturday night was very eloquent and statesmanlike: you can listen to it here.

The Presidency of Ireland is a ceremonial rather than an executive office, and it has little actual power associated with it. It is nevertheless important in that the President is the guardian of the Constitution as well as representing the Irish Nation as a kind of ambassador and as patron of many good causes.

The way the election worked is that voters rank all six candidates. In the first round of counting, first preference votes are totted up and if one candidate has more than 50% he/she is elected. If not an Instant Runoff method is used, with votes of lower-ranked being reallocated until there’s a winner (ie until one candidate gains a majority).

On Saturday, Michael D Higgins gained 56% on the first round so no further counting was necessary. The turnout was very low at 44%. I think this was mainly down to the enormous lead for the incumbent in opinion polls in advance of the voting, but the decision to hold the election on the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend may have contributed.

The candidate in second place, Peter Casey, had 23% of the first-preference votes. This is worryingly high for a man so clearly unsuited to the role of President. Casey cynically played the populist game, particularly with his incendiary remarks about Travellers. All five other candidates condemned his obvious racism, and the Taioseach urged people not to vote for him. That identified Casey as the anti-establishment ‘protest’ vote and his vote share surged.

Now 23% of a 44% turnout is less than 10% of the electorate, but there’s no room for complacency with gobshites like Peter Casey. In the UK the ghastly Nigel Farage was treated as a joke for decades by many establishment figures, but he nevertheless managed to attract sufficient support to cause irrevocable damage to the UK.

Anyway, that concern aside, sincere congratulations to Michael D Higgins on his reelection. He is a worthy winner and I for one am proud to have him as my President.

Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowships

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 23, 2018 by telescoper

A busy teaching days is over, but before I go home I thought I’d use the medium of this blog to advertise the Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellowships which have just been announced by the Irish Research Council.

These positions are of one or two years’ duration starting from 1st October 2019. The research relating to the fellowship can be in any discipline (including Astrophysics and Cosmology) and can be held in any University in the Irish Republic (including Maynooth). The deadline for applications is 29th November 2018.

For further information, see here.

Anyone interested in applying to hold one of these positions in Maynooth is welcome to contact me privately for advice or assistance.

Smiths, Millers, Priests: European Occupational Surnames

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2018 by telescoper

I have known for some time that ‘Ferreira’ (a rather common surname in Portugal) means more or less the same thing as ‘Smith’ (Ferreira derives from the Latin word for Iron). But I’ve often wondered whether other countries have similarly common surnames relating to occupations. Yesterday, through the power of the interwebs, I came across this blog post which answers this very question, though it seems variations on ‘Miller’ may be as common as those relating to ‘Smith’.

Marcin Ciura

Here is the map of the most frequent occupational surnames in European countries and the corresponding trades.


Country Surname Transliteration
Belarus Кавалёў Kavalyow
Bulgaria Попов Popov
Greece Παπαδόπουλος Papadopoulos
Macedonia Поповски Popovski
Russia Кузнецов Kuznetsov
Serbia Поповић Popovic
Ukraine Мельник Melnyk

I made it with Cartopy, Shapely, and Natural Earth data. The surnames are taken mainly from the appropriate Wikipedia page. Redditors provided data for Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Catalonia (Ferrer = Smith), as well as corrected my mistakes in Ukraine and Austria. I sincerely appreciate their help. Click on the links to see relevant comments.

This is a quick hack, not serious research. The map takes into account countries rather than ethnic or cultural areas (update of October 1, 2015: now the maps of Spain…

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