Why is the House of Commons often so empty, and how angry should we be about it? (UsVsTh3m)

Politics: it’s complicated.

Why is the House of Commons often so empty, and how angry should we be about it?

Since we can now all turn on the telly and watch Parliament whenever we want, there’s even more opportunity to be appalled by our elected representatives! Look how your Govt support families who have children with special needs. This is representational & democratic pic.twitter.com/Qo5jaGqkAg- Kazzia (@KazzJenkins) June 16, 2014 But hold on a second, is this really fair?

Wikipedia: autofellatio selfies and one man’s quest to become the Face of Ambivalence (UsVsTh3m)

A tale of Wikipedia and ego.

Wikipedia: autofellatio selfies and one man’s quest to become the Face of Ambivalence

Whilst most of Wikipedia is dry to the point of appearing to have been written by an alien or sociopathic serial killer, you don’t have to dig very far to find a deep vein of digital lunacy… Particularly entertaining are the discussions surrounding images, especially those concerning human sexuality or anatomy.

30 Things To Do Before You’re 30

Because Jesus Christ I’m not bungee jumping any time in the next 12 hours.

1. Shake Jeremy Beadle by the ‘wrong’ hand.

2. Live in Streatham, twice.

3. Get kicked out of Jongleurs, Portsmouth for having a piss in the corner.

4. Appear in BBC Olive Magazine as Daniel Wilkins, Engineer.

189420_508176500090_2762_n

5. Livetweet a solo marathon of all the Police Academy Films.

6. Wake up walking across Tower Bridge at 5am and immediately call your mum to assure her that you don’t need to borrow money.

7. Drink 6 pints of lager then attempt to interview Stewart Lee before what neither of you knew was going to turn out to be a Fathers4Justice benefit gig.

8. Burn a jacket potato in the microwave.

9. Quote Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan in an email to a girl you’re in (unrequited) love with.

10. Wake up with your postcode written on your hand.

11. Play a hexadecimal in a musical rip-off of Tron.

12. Walk out of a screening of The King’s Speech because you’re so drunk you’re about to start ‘getting republican’.

13. Within 24 hours overhear different people describing you as looking a bit like Paul Merton and a bit like Leonardo DiCaprio.

14. Cry on the phone to HMRC.

15. Go to an 80s party as Winston Smith. No-one gets it.

16. Watch every episode of Stargate SG-1.

17. And Stargate: Atlantis.

18. Unwittingly talk about Saint Etienne in front of a man from Saint Etienne in a way that’s personally mortifying but doesn’t provide a satisfying anecdote.

19. Use the Science Museum’s PA system to pretend to be an alien overlord.

20. Send Alex Hern a DVD of The Beaver.

21. Pass out into the Wandsworth Road and smash one of your teeth out.

22. Fail an audition to be on Pointless.

23. Drunkenly slur Andrew Collins’ own name at him after a radio recording.

24. Be in a naked calendar. With your colleagues.

25. Have a hungover snooze on the company sofa and wake up to the chairman of the board looking at you suspiciously.

26. Leave a party because you think it’s funny that your friends’ creepy next door neighbour wants to ‘draw’ you then bolt once he starts asking you if you like his collection of porcelain elves.

27. Look forward to lottery night because you can earn 30p a go for texting drunk people the numbers.

28. Fail to have finished reading any work of classic literature, though you got to the bit in Ulysses where the man has a shit AND listen to the Classic Serial so you’re totally well-read.

29. Come to terms with people calling you ‘Harry Potter’ because at this point it’s flattering.

30. Fall down an escalator, followed by the speaker system you were supposed to be looking after.

 

Twitter Alphabet Power Illuminati – inside the world of single-character usernames (UsVsTh3m)

What’s it like to have one of the shortest usernames on Twitter?

Twitter Alphabet Power Illuminati – inside the world of single-character usernames

If you’re going to be a serious player on social media, you need to get in early: at last count over 200 million people have registered Twitter accounts, gobbling up all the most desirable usernames: good luck getting your own name, unless you were christened @dr_horseotron.

Where does Eric Pickles buy his pickles?

This supermarket was destroyed by Cleggmania, yesterday.
This supermarket was destroyed by Cleggmania, yesterday.

The big political question that no-one is willing to talk about is where members of parliament do their shopping. I mean, obviously when they’re in parliament they probably go to that little Tesco Express by Westminster tube station to buy, e.g. a lasagne and a miniature bottle of wine, but what about when they’re at home?

For obvious reasons most MPs don’t publicise the locations of their houses, but the majority of them do have a publicly available address for their constituency office. Almost all of these these are available on the parliament website; about 50 don’t publish one at all so I’ve used either the address of place they most often do their “surgery” events for constituents, or that of their party’s local office, to stand in.

Gathering this data itself was an interesting demonstration of: 1) how difficult some MPs make it for their constituents to get in touch to talk about their concerns (sometimes there’s more information about how to get a tour of the Houses of Parliament), and 2) how bloody awful (and often quite broken) most MPs’ websites are. Anyway, with that in hand we can figure out what their local supermarket situation is.

Average distance between constituency offices and supermarkets

The constituency offices of Conservative Party MPs tend to be the furthest away from supermarkets; on average they have to go almost twice as far as Labour MPs to do their shopping. This is probably illustrative of the fact that Labour tend to do better in urban areas & the Conservatives in rural ones, or maybe it’s because of Global Warming???

We can also see what the closest supermarket chain tends to be for each party’s offices.

conservative labour ld

Interestingly, despite The Co-operative group’s links with the Labour Party (32 of Labour’s MPs are also joint members of the Co-operative political party), Labour constituency offices tend to be closer to Tesco branches, while Co-op branches tend to be the closest supermarkets to Tory & Lib Dem offices.

Lib Dem offices favour Marks & Spencers more than those of other parties, Iceland is a lot more popular with Labour, and no-one much shops at Budgens.

Obviously there are some variables we can’t account for: Chris Kelly, MP for Dudley South, has an office that’s close to a Tesco Express, but maybe he really like Marks and Spencers’ Percy Pigs pig-shaped confectionery items, so makes the 10 km round trip every day to get himself a bag from the Merry Hill store. His terrible website doesn’t mention whether he likes Percy Pigs. Perhaps the government should have a website detailing which MPs like which sweets, to allow the public to get more of an idea about where their representatives do their shopping.

Below you can see the average distance of an MP’s office from each brand’s stores in kilometres, grouped by party. (Based on the closest 40 stores to each office.)

overall

Nick Clegg’s closest store is a Tesco Express at an Esso petrol station, but I reckon he does his mum’s shopping at Londis.

Eric Pickles is closest to an M&S, so that’s probably where he gets his pickles, except on special occasions when he goes to the only slightly further away Iceland to get a mint Viennetta.

I assume I’ll probably have to go on the run now I’ve released all this sensitive government data, but this is bigger than me. People had to know.

(Supermarket data was provided by Chris Zetter, creator of the excellent SuperLocate iOS app. Other supermarkets are available. Here’s a Google Doc of the constituency office data. No accuracy is guaranteed.)

Executive Class

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a special sort of scientific test used mainly by people in HR who don’t know anything about science. It’s a bit like horoscopes but with more boxes to tick: you fill in a questionnaire and it tells you about your unique personality that means you think about things, or perhaps have feelings.

For example, one Myers-Briggs Type is ESFP: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving. (The opposite would be INTJ: Introverted, Intuition, Thinking, Judgement). According to various cheap-looking websites, an ESFP is a performer, someone who loves to be in the centre of attention, who is practical, and lives in the moment. Famous ESFPs supposedly include Bill Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, that dead crocodile hunter, and the Waterloo & City Line.

You might think that Waterloo & City Line couldn’t even have a Myers-Briggs Type, being a tunnel in London with some trains in it, but you’d be wrong. Whilst the normal way to establish a Myers-Briggs Type is get someone to fill in a questionnaire, it’s apparently possible to use a sample of text to analyse the personality of the author. And while the Waterloo & City Line didn’t have much to say for most of its 115 year history, for the last couple of years, it, and all the other London Underground lines, have been tweeting. So I used samples of each line’s tweets to discover what kinds of personalities they have.

Bakerloo Line ESTJ
Central Line ESTJ
Circle Line ESTP
District Line ESTJ
Hammersmith & City Line ESTP
Jubilee Line ESTJ
Metropolitan Line ESTP
Northern Line ESTJ
Piccadilly Line ESTP
Victoria Line ESTJ
Waterloo & City Line ESFP

The poor old Waterloo & City Line is the odd line out, every other line is either ESTJ  (The Doer) or ESTP (The Guardian).

Maybe there is something to all this Myers-Briggs stuff, because I took a look at how often the different lines talk to (or at least, mention) each other on Twitter:

Diagram showing how often tube lines tweet at each other
Lines tweeting on the horizontal, lines being tweeted at on the vertical. Samples of around ~3200 tweets per line.

The Waterloo & City Line is by far the least popular. The other lines just aren’t interested in it. But why is it so different?

The line opened in 1898, built by the London and South Western Railway because commuters discovered that after going to all the effort of getting to London, it was a bit of a pain in the arse to get to where they actually worked in the City. It’s the only London Underground line that’s completely underground (taking trains on and off the line used to be done using a hydraulic lift, nowadays they use a crane), but for a long time it wasn’t really a London Underground line at all. It doesn’t even appear on Harry Beck’s 1933 tube map, despite pre-dating it by over 30 years.

The original Harry Beck tube map

That it opened as an independent railway line isn’t unusual among the older London Underground Lines, but what is unusual is that it was still operated by Network SouthEast as a National Rail line until 1994, when it was decided to correct the anomaly before rail privatisation took place (for arcane contractual reasons London Underground bought it for a pound).

1987 tube map
The 1987 tube map does include the W&C, but it’s marked as a National Rail service.

Once integrated into the tube network proper the line was given the exciting colour of turquoise, all the good colours having already been used up. At least it’s better than what the Jubilee Line has been known to claim is “silver”. Chinny reckon.

So maybe that long isolation from the “proper” underground lines has taken its toll, marked the Waterloo & City out as different. The sad thing is, it seems like it’s trying to be chatty and approachable; while it is the line that tweets the least, if we look at how much each line tweets given the number of stations on it, or the total line length, the Waterloo & City has them all beat hands down. It’s also the least egotistical line, mentioning itself less than any of the others.

Tweets per day
Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 13-26-38

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 13-26-18

If we look at the words it uses the most, we can see while it’s pretty work-focussed, it is a fan of Easter and the Paralympics.

Word Cloud

Perhaps it’s the case that we can’t learn absolutely everything about a thing by analysing its Twitter account. Perhaps. So I took my 2nd ever trip on the Waterloo & City Line, making the journey in the order the name suggests. That I’ve only used it twice in 10 years might not be not that uncommon, as trips on it account for less than 1% of Underground journeys.

But for what it is, it’s hard to fault: at around 9 minutes (including getting to the platforms) it’s still the fastest way of making the journey between Waterloo & Bank,  if you don’t fancy cycling really fast or taking a helicopter.

The simple route maps could almost be a very dry joke.

Waterloo & City Line Map

The line’s name was even more descriptive when it was opened, as until 1940 the terminus in the City was actually called City.

For some reason every single advert displayed in the carriage was for a special brand of Beats by Dre headphones aimed at executives. Not even one for that hair clinic.

Executive Beats By Dre

Because I’ve opted out of the system of “having a job/any money/not sometimes idly wondering what the best sort of cardboard box to sleep in might be” I took my trip on a weekday afternoon and got a carriage to myself, which is good because people might have thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting to enjoy the ambience/taking photos of Beats by Dr Dre adverts.Empty train

At the other end I walked up what as far as I can tell is the tunnel that gave the line the nickname “The Drain”. I have never heard anyone actually call the Waterloo & City Line “The Drain” but it says they do in about 4 different books so it must be true. Anyway, I guess this tunnel is a bit like a drain, if drains had lights and steps? I’m not going to call the Waterloo & City Line “The Drain”.

The Drain

To be honest, I didn’t learn anything interesting about the Waterloo & City Line from this journey. And those tweets are probably just written by someone in an office. None of this amounts to anything more than a desperate attempt to find meaning in the void. Which is a bit like a Myers-Brigg Type Indicator test, if you think about it. If you think about it a bit more it isn’t that much like it, but there you go.

If you want to travel on the Waterloo & City Line, in exciting news from September 16th it will run until midnight every day except Sunday, on which it will still be closed for the blessing of the trains.

If you want to build your own Waterloo & City Line, there’s a book in Guildhall Library which is mostly really boring minutes from engineering committee meetings but does have some exciting fold-out diagrams.

Diagrams

The 10 Numbers You’re Most Likely To Read In A Buzzfeed Headline

I tracked the RSS feed for Buzzfeed’s homepage for about a month, collecting data on around 3000 articles. About 40% of the Buzzfeed headlines in my sample contain a number, although that does include years. All the numerology is “genuinely” from the internet.

10. The number 22.

The most popular topic for Buzzfeed articles with 22 in the title is “LOL”, a new kind of emotion that is the only way for people on the internet to have a feeling. Other hot topics for 22 include: the royal baby, fast food, mermaids, and printables. Think about a tree: please do not print this internet home page unless you need it for an important meeting or a big poo.

According to internet numerology websites, the number 22 is associated with people who “radiate enormous potential, accompanied by a high level of inner tension resulting from an overwhelming desire to achieve something extraordinary”.

The famous star Taylor Swift had a number 9 hit in the UK charts with a song called 22. Here are the first 22 pictures I got when I Google Image Searched “taylor swift lol”.

22 Taylor Swift LOLs

As of today Taylor Swift has only released 3 fragrances officially, but based on my understanding of human biology it is possible that she has released 19 others unofficially.

9. The number 20.

The hottest topics for number 20? A three-way tie for: “world”, “win” & “philosophy”.

Numerologically speaking, the number 20 is associated with sensitive souls who strive to serve others as best they can, who are likely to have hasty, ill-advised marriages and become public relations agents, artists or interior decorators. I did not make this up.

The first Google Image Search result for “world win philosophy” is this picture of Fabio, famous star of romance novel covers and ex-England football manager. He looks quite cross, and has been married to his wife for over 40 years, but it is not really for me to say whether he made a hasty decision.

Fabio

8. The number 18.

Popular Buzzfeed topics for 18 are “gay best friend”, “best summer” and “terrible sports fans”. Numerology suggests that the number 18 is “sexually powerful”. People associated with it can make good friends, but “despise those who are not as vigorous”. According to Google Image Search, the “best summer” associated with 18 involves this:

best summer 18

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to more fully explore these concepts.

7. The number 17.

And just ahead is 18’s close friend, 17! For Buzzfeed, 17 means animals, life hacks & Saved By The Bell. Numerologists link the number 17 with immortality, which makes sense when you remember that Saved By The Bell’s famous star was the time-commanding immortal Zack Morris. Time out!

time-out

I spent slightly more than a pound on the autobiography of Dustin Diamond, best known to the public as wacky comedy sidekick Screech from children’s sitcom Saved By The Bell. It is not worth slightly more than a pound, although it does contain a letter of apology to all the women he claims he’s slept with. Diamond presents himself as unpleasant, bitter man, the book is poorly written and apparently untouched by an editor. If you are looking to read the memoir of a star of children’s television, I would instead recommend the delightful Blue Box Boy by BBC TV’s Doctor Who’s Adric, who even divides his life up into episodes just like a BBC TV’s Doctor Who story.

Time in!

6. The number 8.

Apparently my life path number is 8! This means that I “have great talent for management in all areas of life, especially in business and financial matters”, although I’m not sure how that connects with my net worth consisting of three or four bin bags worth of stuff best kept in bin bags and a Lego Space Shuttle.

If I were to follow the path of Buzzfeed, I would live a life that followed the tenets of irony, the KKK, Kanye West, Steve Carrell, and ironic photos.

According to Google, this is the most ironic photo of famous star Kanye West:

kayne west irony

I’m not sure that this is that ironic as, according to Yahoo Answers, Kanye West is a very intelligent man who probably has a lot of deep thoughts:

What is Kanye West's IQ

Maybe it’s some sort of special irony, like people who still talk about an Alanis Morissette song from 1995 have discovered. Two Buzzfeed articles in my sample referred to famous star Alanis Morissette, but only one spells her name correctly.

5. The number 12.

(In the following segment, I refer to lasagne as lasagna because of Americans.)

You know when the number 12 was big? The ’90s, according to Buzzfeed!

Famous 1990s television series Friends referenced the number 12 in the episode “The One With The Dozen Lasagnas”. According to the Friends Wikia:

After cooking a dozen lasagnas for Aunt Sylvia, Monica is stuck with them as they were supposed to be vegetarian.

I assume a dozen lasagnas is actually 12 and not 13 because bakers don’t make lasagnes, unless they do. I don’t really deal with bakers a lot in my day-to-day life and I’m not invested enough in this premise to bother phoning a baker. Anyway, a lot of hi-jinx are going on as you know is bound to happen when this crazy gang of Friends is around but also everyone eats a lot of lasagnas!

But wait! The editors of the Friends Wikia have noticed something:

Despite the fact that the lasagnas contained meat (which is why Monica is stuck with them in the first place), Phoebe is seen eating from one near the end of the episode, but she is vegetarian. However, it might be that she scraped the meat off her part, but this is not mentioned or implied at any time.

My explanation for this terrible error is that Phoebe in this episode is not actually Phoebe but is her identical twin sister Ursula pretending to be Phoebe. Ursula was a character from Mad About You also played by the famous star who played Phoebe but they made them twins because apparently Mad About You was once something anyone in the world cared about? Even fanfiction.net only has one Mad About You story, and it’s in Spanish (translated plot summary: “based on the last chapterMabel tells us something very interesting”).

Here are some pictures from the best episode of Friends that someone from the internet has put the corresponding words over the top of:

A GHOST

4. The number 11.

11 is a Master Number, “combining the most powerful male energy” with “the equally potent female energy”, for example in Boris Johnson, art, and James Gandolfini, the most popular topics Buzzfeed has 11 things to say about for some reason.

According to Google this image from the Daily Mail is what represents the combination of the 3:

candle in the wind

A candle in the wind.

2. The number 15.

Jessica O wondered what the meaning of the number 15 could be, and wrote to about.com. About.com’s heaing expert Phylameana Lila Desy told her:

My approach when there are more than one meanings is to choose the meaning that makes the most sense to me personally and not be too concerned about which way may be right or wrong.

Phylameana Lila Desy is a fraud, you can’t just make up what a number means, numbers are science! For instance, Buzzfeed tells us the number 15 is most strongly associated with movies, fashion, bacon fat, and ‘addicted to Nutella’, so it’s clearly a number that indicates you might be a dietary knife-edge away from ruining some ambitions.

Alarmingly this is not the most disturbing thing you get when you look for pictures associated with the phrase “addicted to Nutella”:

nutella-addicted_23

1. The number 10.

A classic number, first popularised by 10th Doctor Who, famous star David Tennant, the number 10 now forms the basis for much of modern mathematics. “LOL” once again tops Buzzfeed’s list of topics, closely followed by “advertising” and “grammar and spelling mistakes”.

Numerology says

through this vibration you have the insight to recognize and understand the needs of humanity, and the ability to bring peace and harmony to all

so in a shocking twist it turns out that by posting loads of “hilarious” Jpegs like

top 10 pffts

this Buzzfeed are actually slowly drawing the psychic energies of humanity towards the perfect oneness that will unite our beings and allow us to experience the true totality of love. If you didn’t “LOL” at the above picture your brain receptors are just not advanced enough to join the next level of human experience 🙁 but maybe you’ll enjoy this word cloud of Buzzfeed topics by popularity:

buzzfeed_word_cloud