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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

The Daily Mail says "Britain's rock solid support for the Royal Family: With Charles' Coronation just four days way, a major poll reveals there is little appetite for republicanism... but reform IS needed" (link (note: propaganda site)).

The article begins by saying that "Britain would decisively back the monarchy if a referendum were held tomorrow" (sic), and "Well over half the United Kingdom would vote for a consitutional monarchy", according to a poll by the former Tory Lord Ashcroft, who writes for the newspaper.
Reading further on, it seems that they are extrapolating for the entire country not only from the 11,450 people surveyed, a little further down it reveals that it is "exclusive analysis for the Mail".

So, from the looks of it, it appears that the Mail conducted some sort of poll (on their website?) and roped in some bloke with a title in order to give it an air of legitimacy.

A real poll conducted by YouGov (link) breaks it down more interestingly with 79% of over-65s preferring to keep a monarch rather than an elected head of state, while the figure for the 18-24 year olds (the ones that got screwed by Brexit and are now old enough to vote) are only 36% in favour. The figures are about the same for the question of "is the monarchy good for the country".

The most popular royal by far (79% positive, 15% negative) was Princess Anne. Charles came fourth with 59%/33%, which was about the same figure as "The royal family in general".
Harry and Meghan scored poorly, with 29%/24% positive, and 63%/65% negative.
It shouldn't come as a surprise who came last, with 9% in favour and 82% against.

32% feel the government should fund the coronation, versus 51% who feel it shouldn't. The main "should" group is overwhelmingly older Tory-voting men in the Home Counties.
The main "should not" group is younger Labour Remainers in most of the rest of the country, though Scotland stands out ahead here.

Asking how much do people care about the coronation, it's 11% saying "a great deal" (you sad sacks!), 24% saying "a fair amount", and "not very much"/"not at all" are tied at 31%. Interestingly, while Scotland was predictably large for the "not at all" vote, the largest "not very much" group was in London. I guess for a Londoner, it's "a bloody inconvenience".
Women tended to be more "a fair amount" interested, with men being more "not at all" interested. As before, older Leave voting Tory supporters were leading the "a fair amount", while younger Labour-voting remainers were the uninterested parties.

Asking if there should be a referendum on continuing the monarchy, it was 31% in favour and 52% against. This was mostly carried by older Tory-voting Leavers. I'm guessing maybe everybody is a little vary of referenda right now, given how much everybody got screwed the last time, not that older Tory-voting leavers will be around long enough to fully appreciate the damage they wrought.


Scan to leave

The right wing media (Mail, LBC, Mirror, Express, etc) is freaking out because a Sainbury's in Balham has installed a new turnstile where you have to scan your receipt in order to leave.
People are annoyed at being "treated like criminals" and the lack of "innocent until proven guilty".

The thing is, the most people probably aren't considering, is that supermarkets like to try to find ways to make shopping simpler and less stressful. There is a huge amount of science and data analysis in working out the best placements of products, how to arrange the aisles, where to put promotions... ultimately the goal of any supermarket is to get you to part with your cash. It's what keeps them in business.
So putting in something as obviously consumer-hostile as being forced to scan receipts to leave, is being done because they have weighed up that losing the stressed "wah, I'm not a criminal" types will affect their bottom line less than impacting the thieving arseholes that make such measures necessary in the first place.

My local supermarket? You have to ask to have a barrier opened if you want to go out the in, but otherwise you're funneled through the checkouts and yes, I guess you could load up a trolley, shove it though, and try to make a run for it. But people around here just aren't like that. Thefts do happen. When I go through I have to rearrange the packs of bottled water so the checkout girl can see I'm not hiding anything, but clearly it's not big time thievery. For that you need bankers.

The hypermarket in Big Town has a thing where you must scan your receipt in order to leave the scan-it-yourself tills. The first time I went there, the barrier wouldn't open so I pushed it harder and it set an alarm off. Security came over, demanded my receipt, which I fished out of the bag. He checked everything, and then said I could leave. I said I would like to speak to the manager. Eventually somebody turned up claiming to be in charge, so I pointed out that nothing at the self service kiosk mentioned the need to scan the receipt. The actual gizmo to do it is smaller than my phone and the sign saying what to do was facing the wrong way, but worse than all of that, the employee literally sitting there in order to oversee the kiosks said nothing to me whatsoever. So maybe before getting the Praetorian Guards to rummage in my bags, it might be prudent to better signpost that this is a requirement.
The apology started off half-hearted until a mémé told him to apologise properly, and later thanked me because she had no idea that this was necessary. Yay for grannies!

I can't tell you if it's better as I don't visit that supermarket any more. Not because I'm offended or anything, but simply because the route I used to take is now a one-way system in the wrong direction and there's exactly zero chance in hell I'm going to drive through the middle of town. Besides, I do understand why it is being done. Clearly Big Town has a problem with less salubrious people. My issue, that I think I made clear, was the complete lack of assistance until it was too late. Nobody likes setting off alarms. Well, I did, once upon a time, but I was like five or something and setting off an alarm would usually be followed by little ADHD me running around yelling "wheee!" or attempting to mimic the alarm. But as an adult, no. Alarms are generally either annoyances or inconveniences. This managed to be both.

So, sorry, I don't have much sympathy for people upset at being "treated like criminals". If people are going to make a habit of nicking stuff, then the supermarket needs to take measures to minimise their losses. Don't shoot the messenger.


Eurovision and Russia

I didn't bother reading the article. The right wing media is reporting that a Tory MP is seeking assurances that contest voting will be protected from Russian threats.

I should point out, I'm not obsessed with right wing news outlets. I get these articles in my phone's news app, and tapping the "more stories" icon brings up a list of other takes on the same story. In this case, Sky, The Times, Mail, Express... there's no Guardian or anything sane.
Probably because it's a dumb non-story.

But I'm going to go with this dumb non-story as I would like to ask for assurances that election voting will be protected from Russian threats (or Chinese, or whoever else the bogeyman is) given that we know now who bankrolled a lot of the distruptive parties and paid to get social media stories ranked in preferential ways to reinforce their agenda. If foreign governments that are generally hostile to the west (and the odd friendly if they feel they have something to gain) can mess with our democratic processes in order to try to get what they want, it's extremely naïve to think that they won't.
Assure me, please, that the next election will be held fairly and democratically an won't be meddled with by foreigners.
(Murdoch is still pulling the strings, so you've already failed...)


Ed Sheeran prevails

What I know of Ed Sheeran is that he's a ginger bloke that sings. And judging by an odd appearance in a Netflix heist movie, doesn't take himself too seriously.
I can't say I am or am not a fan as, to be honest, I know the name but couldn't name one single song he has written. Not the sort of thing that turns up in the sorts of music I listen to. Delain and Therion, yes. Pet Shop Boys and Spandau Ballet, certainly. Sheeran? He's neither '80s nor symphonic rock/metal so... no.

However as somebody who sucks at writing music but would like to try, it was interesting to keep an eye on this, as it seemed to me that the crux of the argument wasn't "did Sheeran rip off this song" but more "do these phrases look like those phrases"?
Now to my mind, this is a very dangerous argument as there are only so many ways to arrange notes in a pleasing manner, so unless the arrangement is clearly copying something - like the instantly recognisable keyboard riff on Walk Of Life (Dire Straits) or "Jump" (Van Halen) - it shouldn't depend upon the similarity of individual phrases, but taken as a part of the song as a whole. Does this little part match that little part? It's a rather ridiculous notion. But if the song as a whole resembles, then that is plagarism.

Or, to put it differently... can I write a story with a bunch of children in a boarding school as the protagonists (oops, already did!), or can I write a story where it's a wizarding school and the children have magical powers, one of which is a three dimensional game of lacrosse played by riding broomsticks.
The first concept could describe numerous stories. The second? Clearly a Harry Potter rip-off.

Or, to put it differently, please watch this "four chord song" video and see how many songs you recognise all fitting the same music being played over and over. They fit not because they all use the exact same music, but because there are enough similarities in structure and timing that it works. Because, yes, some of Ed's songs may be the same as others. As he himself pointed out, certain phrasings that sound good have been used throughout musical history. A work should be judged as a whole, not "oh, that bit came from (obscure song)".



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Gavin Wraith, 5th May 2023, 11:58
There are lots of musical cultures. In most the performer would be blamed for not copying somebody else. Here is an example of what I like:
J.G.Harston, 5th May 2023, 18:20
In 1985 Terry Pratchett jumped in his time machine and ripped off Harry Potter from 2005. And Tolkein? He just ripped off Game of Thrones.
Rob, 5th May 2023, 18:24
Our local Sainsburys has added gates recently too. One set as you go in, that automatically opens as you approach, but sounds an alarm if you try to go out through them. (there's a short passage as you go through with a row of IR beams so they can deduce the direction you are walking through.) The self checkouts have the same scan-your-receipt to get out as you describe. The main tills don't, but they have recently been given solid gates, rather than a fancy ribbon, when they are closed. 
Signage is better.. An eight foot high poster thing explaining - albeit in broken English - that you need the receipt to get out. Alarms on all these if you try and force them.  
I've heard one of other of the alarms going every time I've been in there. Mostly people just trying to exit empty handed, but I did see security pouncing on somebody trying to take a pile of "shopping" out the in gate, just after they were put in. 
Personally, it doesn't bother me. Though I've seen rather more breakdowns of the gates than I'd have expected.
David Pilling, 6th May 2023, 13:25
Shocked to see local M&S staff wearing "body cam", although turns out they only have one between them and take turns. 
Friend says he is uncomfortable scanning and paying on phone there and then just walking away. 
Bigger shops have had gates on entry for a long time, along with security staff, but to get out of those you have to go through some sort of checkout. 
Trouble is on the way, high value items sport electronic tags. 
Few years since I went into M&S and was told that they didn't have what I wanted for my tea because it had all been nicked. 
David Pilling, 6th May 2023, 13:28
Ashcroft is pollster, whilst YouGov is the company of disgraced politician Nadhim Zahawi

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