Cardiff Brewery Tap wins Beard Friendly Pub of the Year title (UK)

Posted in Beards on January 16, 2017 by telescoper

Another important accolade for Cardiff, winner of this year’s Beard Friendly Pub of the Year in the “Outside London” category!

There’s a news item about this prestigious award in the local media here.

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Beard Liberation Front

January 15th

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The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the contest for the Beard Friendly Pub of the Year has concluded with the Crafty Devil Beer Cellar in Cardiff bearding the Cloudwater brewery tap in Manchester for the UK (outside of London) title

The Cock Tavern in Hackney won the overall poll but the result of the on-line vote saw a major new development with Brewery Taps- where drinkers socialise at the breweries themselves- coming second and third in the overall national vote.

The winners in 2016 included the Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington, the Cock Tavern in central Hackney and the Bag of Nails in Bristol

Beard Friendly Pub, Bar, Tap 2017


1 Crafty Devil Beer Cellar, Cardiff

2 Cloudwater Brewery Tap, Manchester

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Paddy’s Market

Posted in Biographical on January 14, 2017 by telescoper

When I was a kid my Mum would use the expression “Paddy’s Market” quite often, to describe a messy, chaotic place e.g.

Tidy up your bedroom! It’s like Paddy’s Market!

Actually, that’s not so much an “e.g.” as an “invariably”.

Anyway, I always assumed that “Paddy’s Market” was a well-known term, but later began to think it wasn’t used very much at all in the Big Wide World.

The name “Paddy’s Market” clearly derives from the name of a place in Glasgow, which is perhaps testament to my family’s Scottish connections but it may be commonplace on Tyneside (where I was born) and even elsewhere. I just don’t know how widespread is its use.

Anyone out there in the blogosphere care to comment?

How Long Blues – Jimmy Yancey

Posted in Jazz with tags , on January 13, 2017 by telescoper

Over the past weeks I’ve been posting tracks by the legendary pianist Jimmy Yancey. They seem to have proved quite popular, so here’s another one. This differs from the others (which were in the boogie-woogie style) in being a slow blues rather than an up-tempo boogie-woogie romp. It’s quite an old song, dating back to 1928, of which many versions have been made over the years, but this is an atmospheric masterpiece that shows what a superb interpreter of the blues Jimmy Yancey was. That gently rocking left hand and the beautiful articulation of the right hand seem to underline the sense of loss conveyed in the lyrics to the song, which is about a man whose lover who has left him:

Heard the whistle blowin’, couldn’t see no train
Way down in my heart, I had an achin’ pain
How long, how long, baby how long

You won’t hear many better – or more haunting – performances the blues than this. And who cares if there’s a bit of surface noise on the record?

Lobachevksy – Tom Lehrer

Posted in Music with tags , , on January 13, 2017 by telescoper

Why Universities should ignore League Tables

Posted in Bad Statistics, Education with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2017 by telescoper

Very busy day today but I couldn’t resist a quick post to draw attention to a new report by an independent think tank called the Higher Education Policy Institute  (PDF available here; high-level summary there). It says a lot of things that I’ve discussed on this blog already and I agree strongly with most of the conclusions. The report is focused on the international league tables, but much of what it says (in terms of methodological criticism) also applies to the national tables. Unfortunately, I doubt if this will make much difference to the behaviour of the bean-counters who have now taken control of higher education, for whom strategies intended to ‘game’ position in these, largely bogus, tables seem to be the main focus of their policy rather than the pursuit of teaching and scholarship, which is what should universities actually be for.

Here is the introduction to high-level summary:

Rankings of global universities, such as the THE World University Rankings, the QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities claim to identify the ‘best’ universities in the world and then list them in rank order. They are enormously influential, as universities and even governments alter their policies to improve their position.

The new research shows the league tables are based almost exclusively on research-related criteria and the data they use are unreliable and sometimes worse. As a result, it is unwise and undesirable to give the league tables so much weight.

Later on we find some recommendations:

The report considers the inputs for the various international league tables and discusses their overall weaknesses before considering some improvements that could be made. These include:

  • ranking bodies should audit and validate data provided by universities;
  • league table criteria should move beyond research-related measures;
  • surveys of reputation should be dropped, given their methodological flaws;
  • league table results should be published in more complex ways than simple numerical rankings; and
  • universities and governments should not exaggerate the importance of rankings when determining priorities.

No doubt the purveyors of these ranking – I’ll refrain from calling them “rankers” – will mount a spirited defence of their business, but I agree with the view expressed in this report that as they stand these league tables are at best meaningless and at worst damaging.

Bayesian weak lensing tomography: Reconstructing the 3D large-scale distribution of matter with a lognormal prior [CEA]

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2017 by telescoper

Bayesian and Lognormal! How could I resist a reblog of this arXiver post?


We present a Bayesian reconstruction algorithm that infers the three-dimensional large-scale matter distribution from the weak gravitational lensing effects measured in the image shapes of galaxies. The algorithm assumes that the prior probability distribution of the matter density is lognormal, in contrast to many existing methods that assume normal (Gaussian) distributed density fields. We compare the reconstruction results for both priors in a suite of increasingly realistic tests on mock data. We find that in cases of high noise levels (i.e. for low source galaxy densities and/or high shape measurement uncertainties), both normal and lognormal priors lead to reconstructions of comparable quality. In the low-noise regime, however, the lognormal model produces significantly better reconstructions than the normal model: The lognormal model 1) enforces non-negative densities, while negative densities are present when a normal prior is employed, 2) better traces the extremal values and the skewness of the true underlying…

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Status of Dark Matter in the Universe [CEA]

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on January 11, 2017 by telescoper

Courtesy of arXiver, here’s a nice review article if you want to get up to date with the latest ideas and evidence about Dark Matter…


Over the past few decades, a consensus picture has emerged in which roughly a quarter of the universe consists of dark matter. I begin with a review of the observational evidence for the existence of dark matter: rotation curves of galaxies, gravitational lensing measurements, hot gas in clusters, galaxy formation, primordial nucleosynthesis and cosmic microwave background observations. Then I discuss a number of anomalous signals in a variety of data sets that may point to discovery, though all of them are controversial. The annual modulation in the DAMA detector and/or the gamma-ray excess seen in the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope from the Galactic Center could be due to WIMPs; a 3.5 keV X-ray line from multiple sources could be due to sterile neutrinos; or the 511 keV line in INTEGRAL data could be due to MeV dark matter. All of these would require further confirmation in other experiments…

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