Sunday, 27 November 2016

Even expert forecasters often treat a strong possibility as though it is a certainty.

Why forecasters failed to predict Trump’s victory: Tim Harford in London's Financial Times

"The truth is that once Trump had secured the nomination, a Trump presidency was always a strong possibility. The betting markets seemed to recognise this, offering odds of three-to-one a week or so before the poll. Three-to-one shots happen all the time — or at least, about a quarter of the time. A defeat for Hillary Clinton may be far more consequential than a defeat for Manchester City and, therefore, far more shocking but it shouldn’t be any more surprising. Favourites do not always win."
"... we have to keep an open mind that more than one outcome is possible. Too many people equated “Clinton is the favourite” with “Clinton will win”. That’s an obvious error, but it’s common. Even expert forecasters often treat a strong possibility as though it is a certainty. This tendency is one reason that dart-throwing chimps give the experts a run for their money. The chimps make lots of forecasting errors too, but at least they don’t systematically overrate their chances."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Keeping it in the family: Donald Trump and the New Jerey connection

Family comes first. That's one thing we now know about president elect Donald Trump.
This report by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow s a bottler as she tells of the Trump son in laws' revenge.
Watch it here.

Monday, 14 November 2016

What is the name of the Sparkling Wine from East of Paris - up around Epernay?

By David Farmer


I returned to Tasmania in 1970 after 5 years overseas and was by then very interested in wine. Enough to find out what was happening in Tasmania, so father, who knew everyone set up a meeting with the Department of Agriculture in Launceston.
I was told viticulture had no future as it was far too cold but a 'crack-pot' was planting a vineyard at Pipers Brook and the location was worth going to see. I did not meet the 'crack-pot' Andrew Pirie but I did meet his brother David who was propagating vine cuttings. I also went to the La Provence vineyard.
So naturally I have followed with great interest the growth of the Tasmanian wine industry.
The early to late 1980s were ........... years and over a six year period I led the pack that producers two award winners of the professional class of the Australian Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de ........... (C.I.V.C.), Chris Shanahan (1983) and Adrian Marsden Smedley (1986).
Thus I know a lot about sparkling wines and ..........., enough to tell you that the cheap French cooperative ........... which have been flooding the local market are not worth your money. These are the ones with oddly familiar but made up names and have the initials CM on the label.
Tasmania is the place where you should be looking and Wine Australia says: House of Arras, Delamere and Pirie. These are wines of breed and complexity: age-worthy wines that take the classic ........... blend…..that makes them unique……The wines are sough-after (sic)... and offer a value quotient that puts equivalent quality ........... or ........... in the shade.
As readers know this site is censored by Wine Australia and since what I have told you is advertising copy not wine writing, the words which will offend you must be dotted out and this is true even when I quote Wine Australia.
I thank customers who have sent in emails of support and report that this stupidity continues. Alas I have a fear Wine Australia want to dilute your interests as a consumer.
If you would like your views on this absurd censorship to be known by the federal government that supposedly control Wine Australia then click the Send Email bottom on the top right and let the relevant minister know.
And email richard@politicalowl.com with the censored name i.n the headline and you could win a $50 win voucher from David Farmer's glug.com.au business.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

James Halliday as Wine Australia would censor him

The repressive attack on freedom of speech by Wine Australia has not yet reached the level of stopping wine journalists giving sensible information to consumers. But should a wine maker or retailer dare to quote the words of James Halliday, the country's most famous wine writer, they would face two years in jail.
To give you an idea of just how ridiculously draconian Wine Australia's censorship powers are, we reproduce below how a recent Halliday column would need to be censored to conform with Wine Australia's law.
And if you think you know what the blacked out words are, enter Censored by Wine Australia's competition by sending your guess at what the illegal words are to:


richard@politicalowl.com. 

There are $50 wine voucher that can be redeemed at glug.com.au for correct and/or witty entries.
Click on the column to enlarge it.



Thursday, 10 November 2016

Wine Australia chairman's company breaking own law that carries a two year jail term


They might proudly call it Méthode Tasmanoise but the Hill-Smith family, who purchased Jansz in 1997, seem quite keen to stress a French connection. You will notice, for one thing, that their sparkling is made by the Méthode Tasmanoise rather than the Tasmanian method. But that's a minor dipping of the lid to proper champagne compared with other French references on the Jansz website.  References like this:
In 1986, esteemed Champagne house - Louis Roederer partnered with the owners of Heemskerk Wines to produce Tasmania’s first premium vintage sparkling wine. They saw the similarities between the climate here and the famous wine region of their homeland.
And this:
It could be argued we’re completely mad growing grapes in the wild and unforgivingly cold Tasmanian environment. But there’s méthode to our madness.
The climatic conditions of the Jansz vineyard rival the famed French wine region of Champagne. In fact, it was originally with French contribution that Jansz became Tasmania’s first sparkling made using the traditional Méthode Champenoise.
Today we call it, Méthode Tasmanoise. It’s the essence of a partnership between the environment and our winemaker. Just as the cool Tasmanian climate creates spectacular beauty in nature, it is also instrumental in the creation of art in bottles.
All that's quite accurate and reasonable in my opinion but that's no defence under the draconian laws administered by Wine Australia. The Hill-Smith family, whose wines usually carry the Yalumba label, have clearly breached what Rachel Triggs, Wine Australia's Legal Counsel, describes in this way:


Under the AGWA Act and Regulations, it is an offence to sell, import or export a wine with a false description and presentation, or with a misleading description and presentation (sections 40C and 40E respectively). This extends to advertising on a website and would extend to the use of third party material, such as articles by wine critics, used to present and describe your wine and subsequently to promote and sell your wine.
It is important to clarify the differences between ‘false’ and ‘misleading’ use, as the interaction between these two elements is often misunderstood. The AGWA Act clearly states that the description and presentation of wine is misleading if it includes a registered geographical indication and the wine is misleading as to the country, region or locality in which the wine originated. It is often argued that certain unauthorised use of a GI “could not possibly mislead anyone” and, therefore, should be permitted. The description “A Barossa version of a Cote-Rotie”, for example, makes it absolutely clear that the wine is from the Barossa, not from the GI protected for France.
However, the Act provides an addition level of protection where the use of a GI is false for the purposes of the Act. This places a blanket prohibition over the use of a registered GI in relation to a wine that did not originate in that GI, regardless of whether the use is misleading as to the origin of the wine (with some small exceptions).
Such exceptions include pre-existing trade mark rights, terms used as part of an individual’s name or winery address, and common English words. ...
This situation was clearly explained when the Act was introduced to Parliament, notwithstanding the example used was ‘Chablis’, rather than ‘Cote-Rotie’. A description such as ‘Australian Chablis, Product of Australia’ could not possibly mislead a reasonable person as to the true origin of the wine but is false use of the Chablis GI and constitutes an offence under our Act.
Penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment apply in relation to false or misleading statements or (or in addition to) $21,600 for an individual, and five times that for a company. Cancellation/suspension of export licences may also apply where the wine is being exported and any interested party, including AGWA, may make an application for an injunction restraining a person or a company from selling a wine that uses a GI contrary to the legislation.
If you want to read all of Ms Triggs's opinion you will find it HERE


This breach of the law should be highly embarrassing to Wine Australia's chairman Brian Walsh. As the Corporation's website notes, "Brian boasts a 24 year career at Yalumba, spanning roles of Chief Winemaker, Director of Production and Director of Strategy & Business Development as well as 20 years working in winemaking and management positions in McLaren Vale."

It suggests to me that Mr Walsh is unaware of the law he is charged with administering. He should be urging the federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce to change the Act so that consumers can be given information that helps them make sensible wine buying choices.

Murdoch's Fox Network gets Trump for President prediction correct


The US entertainment newspaper Variety reports this morning how Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network 16 years ago predicted the election of Donald Trump as President
In an unnervingly prescient episode of the iconic Fox show from March 19, 2000, Bart was transported to the future when Donald Trump’s presidency had just come to an end.
In the episode “Bart to the Future” from Season 11 of the show, a Native American oracle gives Bart visions of the future when he is an adult wearing flip flops, a Hawaiian shirt and sporting a pony tail.
It turns out that his sister Lisa has become “the first straight female president” who has inherited “quite a budget crunch from President Trump,” and Bart visits her at the White House. Lisa’s aide, Secretary Milhouse Van Houten, explains that Trump has left the country “broke.”
Dan Greaney, who wrote the episode, revealed in an interview in March that the episode was meant to be a “warning to America.”
“And that just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane,” Greaney said.
See for yourself below.



(Go to the 6.00 mark)

Was it all Hillary's own work?

I have not checked the figures but it looks sensible explanation to me.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Presidential election result: H.L.Mencken saw it coming

I give up. I do not understand people. I spent the day listening in disbelief as the votes were counted.

How can this be? 

Perhaps H.L. Mencken got it right when he wrote:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A US Presidential election prediction - Clinton 332 electoral college votes to Trump's 206

When it comes to predicting election results I'm still a wisdom of crowds man although with so many media pundits now following the betting markets there is growing evidence of people trying to influence things purely because they have more money than the markets can comfortably cope with. That's why when it comes to this US presidential election I'm using the Iowa Electronic Market as my guide to what the true wisdom is. That's because the IEM, run by the College of Business at the University of Iowa, has a lot of participants but with sensible limits on how much any participant can invest.
As I am writing this at 10pm Canberra time the Iowa consensus is that Clinton will end up with 53.7 per cent of the two party (Democrat plus Republican) vote to Trump's 46.3 per cent. That predicts that Clinton will do 1.7 points better than Obama did in 2012 and have a comfortable win.
Comfortable but not enough to do better than Obama when it comes to the number of electoral college votes. On the IEM prediction of the national vote, if it turns out overall to be uniform, the electoral college result would be identical to 2012 - Clinton 232 to Trump on 206.
I'll go with the pluses in some states being cancelled out by the minuses in others so 332 to 206 is my fearless prediction.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

US election note: Going a brighter shade of orange


We May Have Unlocked the Mystery of Trump's Orange Skin | Mother Jones:

Why is Donald Trump so orange? This has been one of the mysteries of the 2016 presidential campaign. The internet is full of speculation, but the consensus is that Trump is an aficionado of bad spray tans or the tanning booth. (The white goggle lines are a dead giveaway.) He hasn't always been this shade. Fifteen years ago, Trump's pallor was almost normal. But something changed about 10 years ago and the internet hasn't fully explained why. There might be a strong clue: Trump's longtime friendship with the former CEO of a tanning company.
'via Blog this'

Win free wine in the Wine Australia censorship contest

The federal government body Wine Australia has decreed that the glug.com.au website cannot use certain words when trying to give consumers an honest opinion of a wine's merit. Thus thick black lines have started appearing on the small Barossa winery's tasting descriptions.

Harem 'Fatima' Barossa Grenache Mataro 2012

Ben got a lot of pleasure from taking the initial building blocks and assembling them on the tasting bench to make the final 'Fatima' blend. The 'Layla' style of Grenache appeals to me and I am thrilled with the result, whereas the 'Fatima' is a deep rich,                              style which will last.

Grenache no doubt dates back to the 1830s and was much liked in the days of making fortified wines as it gives heavy crops with high sugar. Smart wine makers have been playing with the rich heritage of old vines left over from this time and at last the winemaking artistry has clicked with the vines awaiting discovery. The model is the famous wines of the                                                                           , and those now made in McLaren Vale and the Barossa, equal or surpass these wines. 
This censorship madness sees Wine Australia threatening a two year jail term for the South Australian winemaker/retailer if he continues to use words on his website like those blacked out in the examples above. The offending words are not misleading about where the wine comes from or mentioned on a wine's label. The Wine Australia bureaucrats argue that the very mention of specified words on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union.

So what are the words behind the blacked out sections? The Owl has five $50 vouchers you can use at glug.com.au to give away for answers in his Wine Australia Censorship Contest.

Email your entries to richard@politicalowl.com. The Owl will reward entries based on accuracy, wit and wisdom.

Please report Peta Credlin sightings



In the Sunday Telegraph column of Peta Credlin this morning were these words of wisdom:
When people say to me “there’s no way Trump can happen here”, I tell them they need to go for a drive outside their leafy suburb, find a pub, sit down in the front bar and just listen.
The Owl is keen to get evidence that the columnist practices what she preaches. Please send photos of Ms Credlin on a bar stool.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Wine Australia wants to censor small Barossa winery from giving consumers an honest opinion

Wine Australia is threatening to have a South Australian winemaker/retailer sent to jail for two years if he continues to use words like these on his website:
'This Tasmanian sparkling wine represents far better value than most champagnes.'
The offending word is champagne even though it is not mentioned on the label. The wine bureaucrats argue that the very mention of the word on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union.


By David Farmer

All wineries keep records which allows a check that wineries are doing the right thing and one role of Wine Australia is be the inspector or auditor.
It is unexpected that they also have another role which is to control the use of particular terms and phrases which are grouped under a banner called geographical indicators often shortened to GIs.
The Wine Australia email specifically mentions; Rioja, Champagne, Cote du Rhone (including Rhone), and Cote Rotie, terms I have used in my selling descriptions.
It goes on to mention that usage is also restricted for Australian regions.
For 35 years I have been aware that the French are very protective of the use of wine terms to which they feel they have ownership. This first flared up in the late 1970s when local wineries labelled light red styles as Beaujolais.
At the time the business Farmer Bros. was a big importer of French Beaujolais and of course sold the local 'Beaujolais' wines as well. I watched the buying habits of customers with great interest.
I can report customers never had a doubt as to which Beaujolais was French and which Australian. This observation has edged me closer to the school of marketing which says; all publicity is good publicity.
Another example is that in recent years the French have been aggressive in protecting use of the word Champagne.
As the exports of Australian wines began to grow part of the agreement to gain entry to the European Union was to phase out the usage of common European wine terms on Australian labels. In other words the European are wanting to protect what it believes is its intellectual property.
At some time later this trade legislation has been strengthened to restrict not only the use on labels but how these terms can be used in the media.
The Australian Grape and Wine Authority or AGWA which operates under the name Wine Australia, came into being on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 following the merger of Wine Australia Corporation and the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation.
My suspicion is that at this time a blanket ban was placed into the legislation controlling the use in advertising, as distinct from wine writing, of the large number of agreed geographical terms or GIs.
Over the next few weeks we took advice from a number of sources and replied as follows.
Wine Australia replied on 16th September.
We took the approach of letting them tell us explicitly what the problem was and it came in this form.
This email interested brother Richard and he sent the following thought to a colleague on the 27th August:
The draconian nature of trade agreements between Australia and other countries is well illustrated by recent actions of the federal government body Wine Australia.
Wine Australia is threatening to have a South Australian winemaker/retailer sent to jail for two years if he continues to use words like these on his website:
'This Tasmanian sparkling wine represents far better value than most champagnes.'
The offending word is champagne even though it is not mentioned on the label. The wine bureaucrats argue that the very mention of the word on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union..

Censored by Wine Australia - Surprise Email from Wine Australia Creates Concerns

Wine Australia is threatening to have a South Australian winemaker/retailer sent to jail for two years if he continues to use words like these on his website:
'This Tasmanian sparkling wine represents far better value than most champagnes.'
The offending word is champagne even though it is not mentioned on the label. The wine bureaucrats argue that the very mention of the word on a website or in a printed description of a wine is illegal under legislation to ratify an agreement between Australia and the European Union.


By David Farmer

If I have learnt one thing after 41 years of selling wine it is that wine is easy to make but very hard to sell.
For over four decades I have gone about my business of copy writing which sets out reasons why the wine being described has appeal.
Since I have a vast fund of knowledge it is useful for customers to know what I think about each wine.
On the 17th August, 2016 an email from the legislative body Wine Australia and tagged 'high importance' was sent to myself and my wine making colleague Benjamin Parker.
This email is not about the wine in the bottle matching what is on the label or ‘label integrity’ but something else which says there are rules about what you can say in advertisements about a wine.
Not whether comments are misleading but that certain terms may not be used in advertising copy and that some of the place names I use are controlled or not allowed.
I sent a copy to my brother, Richard Farmer, a man with vast experience in so many areas.

Richard,

Is this to be taken seriously? eg at times I may mention in copy references to French DOC regions and Australian regions.

He replied thus:

I will have a look at the legislation that establishes Wine Australia and get back to you. In the meantime have a look at other websites - eg First Choice and Dan Murphy - and see if they are doing the same thing as you when it comes to comparisons and locations.
And a day later added.

I will have a look at some of Halliday's writing. This is a real free speech issue. We can have some fun about bureaucrats going mad.

It seems that after selling wine for 41 years, Wine Australia is telling me to change how I sell wine, when I thought their job would be to help in selling more.
This email from the Wine Australia is quite disturbing since it implies censorship and believing this will interest Glug customers I will keep you posted.

Did George Negus feed Cathy Freeman his Band Aid?

The case of the vanished Band Aid has puzzled the army of viewers of last night's Silvia's Italian Kitchen on ABC television.

George Negus, the celebrity television political journalist and would-be-Italian, had a starring role preparing the salad.

That's the deft hand of George (above) wielding the knife in a scene from the show. Note the flesh coloured Band Aid on his finger.


And that's George shortly afterwards cutting into the cauliflower. The Band Aid is not to be seen.

Where did it end up? On the plate of fellow guest Cathy Freeman? Or down the throat of Emma Alberici?

Clearly Negus the chef was not made aware of the sensible safety advice elsewhere on the ABC website.

Food safety is a big issue whether you’re in a commercial kitchen or whipping up a meal at home. Temperature control, cross contamination, reheating are all concerns in a modern cooking environment.
What do bandaids have to do with Food Safety … and why Simon is wearing bright blue ones in this week’s program?
The answer is quite simple. A brightly coloured (and waterproof) bandaid is preferable to a transparent one in a kitchen environment in case it works loose and comes off. No-one wants to find and unwanted extra in their dinner!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Election Polls That Matter - Little data not big

The Election Polls That Matter - The New York Times:
"The best campaigns don’t bother with national polls — I’ve come to hate public polling, period. In the 2012 race we focused on a “golden report,” which included 62,000 simulations to determine Mr. Obama’s chances of winning battleground states. It included state tracking polls and nightly calls from volunteers, but no national tracking polls

... “Big data” is a buzzword, but that concept is outdated. Campaigns have entered the era of “little data.” Huge data sets are often less helpful in understanding an electorate than one or two key data points — for instance, what issue is most important to a particular undecided voter.

With “little data,” campaigns can have direct, highly personalized conversations with voters both on- and offline, like an ad on a voter’s Facebook page addressing an issue the voter is passionate about. In 2016, we see that online political engagement rates (especially for young voters) are at a historic high.

This is why campaigns no longer pay much attention to public polls, which often use conversations with just a few hundred people to make predictions about the entire electorate. Getting a truly representative sample has become ever more difficult because of the growing percentage of households with only cellphones, the number of voters who prefer to speak a language other than English, and the difficulty in contacting younger voters, who generally don’t have landlines.

Smart campaigns can use “little data” to solve these problems. They look at public data sets that list each registered voter’s name, address, party registration and election participation history. By analyzing these voter files, they develop an accurate idea of the makeup of the electorate.."

'via Blog this'

The bureaucratic hypocrisy of Wine Australia - do as we say not as our directors do

Wine Australia is a federal government body supposedly under the control of the Minister for Agriculture and his Assistant Minister.  It is charged with regulating and promoting the local wine industry. The current aims of Wine Australia seem to be kowtowing to the French and supporting local producers who claim to be the fine wine people. The result of both aims is to prevent consumers being given an accurate assessment of the real merits of both imported and local wines.
Wine Australia is trying to prevent anyone who sells wine from giving advice about wines from one region compared with wines from another.
It is currently threatening my brother David Farmer, who runs a small winery in the Barossa, with a two year jail term because he dared to suggest, for example, that a Wrattonbury cabernet might be as good as one from Coonawrra. You will find the details on David's website HERE.
Meanwhile, a member of the Wine Australia board, is committing exactly the same so-called offence.
Mr Edouard Peter, the Wine Australia board director who is the majority shareholder of Dural Wines that controls Kaesler Wines with headquarters, like glug, in the Barossa, has his company defying the same laws that sees the directors of glug are being threatened with the full force of the law and facing a two year jail terrm.

Tut, tut. The reference to Graves is in defiance of Wine Australia's "geographical indications" law.
Go to jail. Go directly to jail and pay a tens of thousands in fines while you do so.
And cop another sentence for daring to mention Bordeaux in this description.
And while Wine Australia is on its Big Brother vendetta it better begin the prosecution of that other board member Brian Croser. Brian, poor fellow, has dared to use a prohibited word in promoting one of his products.
The mists of Mersault indeed. The slammer for you Brian.