Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mapping 2013 federal election results

Australian federal election is still more than a week away but some have already decided the result is a forgone conclusion. In particular, an online bookmaker is so certain the Coalition will win the election it has paid out all bets on that outcome. It is probably just a PR stunt. So meantime, before we have any confirmation of the real outcome, have a look a map published by The Age which presents how Australians cast their votes at the last election in 2010. Using data from the Australian Electoral Commission they have been able to map out the two-party preferred vote for every polling booth throughout Australia.

The map was created by Geoplex, GIS consultancy based in Canberra and Melbourne, using open source mapping application Leafletjs and data served by CartoDB (cloud based GIS solution).

First spotted on

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Maps aid in gauging public opinions

Interactive nature of online maps makes them a great tool for engagement with local communities while soliciting feedback on various aspects of local life. The City of Cockburn in Western Australia has just deployed an innovative online application to survey the community about local transportation issues using the Google Maps API.

Visitors to the City of Cockburn Integrated Transport Survey page can comment on local transport issues and reference specific locations on a Google Map. In particular, users can search for a specific address then add a marker to the map and leave a comment categorising it into one of six transport related issues: congestion, road safety, parking, freight, public transport, cycling or walking related.

All comments are published immediately as interactive markers on the map as well as a twitter-like list. Other residents can vote on each issue by either agreeing or disagreeing with the author of the original comment.

This is a great example of using a simple online map as a low cost but very effective tool to reach a large number of members of a local community that otherwise would not have had the opportunity to raise their concerns. The application was developed by a group of Brisbane based specialists from Arup, an engineering and built environment consultancy, and is available for other projects under banner.

First spotted on Google Maps Mania

The real trouble with economics

I pretty much agree with everything Mark Thoma says here in pointing to sociological factors within academic economics as the source of recent problems. Anyone who has read this blog knows I'm not so sanguine about the supposed "sophistication" of the analytical models currently used in macroeconomics, but, that to one side, Thoma is right that the real problem has been a lack of imagination and willingness to build models (probably messy and inelegant ones) that would inform us in a practically useful way about possible market instabilities:

 "I talked about the problem with the sociology of economics awhile back -- this is from a post in August, 2009:

In The Economist, Robert Lucas responds to recent criticism of macroeconomics ("In Defense of the Dismal Science"). Here's my entry at Free Exchange's Robert Lucas Roundtable in response to his essay:
Lucas roundtable: Ask the right questions, by Mark Thoma: In his essay, Robert Lucas defends macroeconomics against the charge that it is "valueless, even harmful", and that the tools economists use are "spectacularly useless".
I agree that the analytical tools economists use are not the problem. We cannot fully understand how the economy works without employing models of some sort, and we cannot build coherent models without using analytic tools such as mathematics. Some of these tools are very complex, but there is nothing wrong with sophistication so long as sophistication itself does not become the main goal, and sophistication is not used as a barrier to entry into the theorist's club rather than an analytical device to understand the world.
But all the tools in the world are useless if we lack the imagination needed to build the right models. Models are built to answer specific questions. When a theorist builds a model, it is an attempt to highlight the features of the world the theorist believes are the most important for the question at hand. For example, a map is a model of the real world, and sometimes I want a road map to help me find my way to my destination, but other times I might need a map showing crop production, or a map showing underground pipes and electrical lines. It all depends on the question I want to answer. If we try to make one map that answers every possible question we could ever ask of maps, it would be so cluttered with detail it would be useless, so we necessarily abstract from real world detail in order to highlight the essential elements needed to answer the question we have posed. The same is true for macroeconomic models.
But we have to ask the right questions before we can build the right models.
The problem wasn't the tools that macroeconomists use, it was the questions that we asked. The major debates in macroeconomics had nothing to do with the possibility of bubbles causing a financial system meltdown. That's not to say that there weren't models here and there that touched upon these questions, but the main focus of macroeconomic research was elsewhere. ...
The interesting question to me, then, is why we failed to ask the right questions. For example,... why policymakers didn't take the possibility of a major meltdown seriously. Why didn't they deliver forecasts conditional on a crisis occurring? Why didn't they ask this question of the model? Why did we only get forecasts conditional on no crisis? And also, why was the main factor that allowed the crisis to spread, the interconnectedness of financial markets, missed?
It was because policymakers couldn't and didn't take seriously the possibility that a crisis and meltdown could occur. And even if they had seriously considered the possibility of a meltdown, the models most people were using were not built to be informative on this question. It simply wasn't a question that was taken seriously by the mainstream.
Why did we, for the most part, fail to ask the right questions? Was it lack of imagination, was it the sociology within the profession, the concentration of power over what research gets highlighted, the inadequacy of the tools we brought to the problem, the fact that nobody will ever be able to predict these types of events, or something else?
It wasn't the tools, and it wasn't lack of imagination. As Brad DeLong points out, the voices were there—he points to Michael Mussa for one—but those voices were not heard. Nobody listened even though some people did see it coming. So I am more inclined to cite the sociology within the profession or the concentration of power as the main factors that caused us to dismiss these voices.
And here I think that thought leaders such as Robert Lucas and others who openly ridiculed models they disagreed with have questions they should ask themselves (e.g. Mr Lucas saying "At research seminars, people don’t take Keynesian theorizing seriously anymore; the audience starts to whisper and giggle to one another", or more recently "These are kind of schlock economics"). When someone as notable and respected as Robert Lucas makes fun of an entire line of inquiry, it influences whole generations of economists away from asking certain types of questions, some of which turned out to be important. Why was it necessary for the major leaders in macroeconomics to shut down alternative lines of inquiry through ridicule and other means rather than simply citing evidence in support of their positions? What were they afraid of? The goal is to find the truth, not win fame and fortune by dominating the debate.
We need to take a close look at how the sociology of our profession led to an outcome where people were made to feel embarrassed for even asking certain types of questions. People will always be passionate in defense of their life's work, so it's not the rhetoric itself that is of concern, the problem comes when factors such as ideology or control of journals and other outlets for the dissemination of research stand in the way of promising alternative lines of inquiry.
I don't know for sure the extent to which the ability of a small number of people in the field to control the academic discourse led to a concentration of power that stood in the way of alternative lines of investigation, or the extent to which the ideology that markets prices always tend to move toward their long-run equilibrium values caused us to ignore voices that foresaw the developing bubble and coming crisis. But something caused most of us to ask the wrong questions, and to dismiss the people who got it right, and I think one of our first orders of business is to understand how and why that happened.
I think the structure of journals, which concentrates power within the profession, also influence the sociology of the profession (and not in a good way)."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The political problem

Several years ago, immediately post-crisis, I wrote a short article for Nature exploring new ideas about modelling economic and financial systems. I wrote about agent-based models and other similar ideas, nothing all that earth shaking really. In an early draft, I recall adding a section toward the end of the piece making the point that, of course, better models, better science, etc., would never be enough because ultimately policy making has an irreducible political element; financial crises can almost always be traced back to the political influence of powerful forces who shape policies to help themselves (or to try to do so), with little thought for the welfare of others. To my surprise, my editor at Nature took that section out saying something like "we'd like to stick to the science."

I thought that was unfortunate and hugely misleading. Corruption is real, and I really do think that no amount of better economics will eliminate financial and economic crises, because of the reality of politics. No avoiding it. Simon Wren-Lewis has a great post on this topic today, looking at why it would not actually be that hard -- conceptually -- to make the financial system more stable. The only barrier is the intimate connection between finance and politics ("quite frankly, the banks own this place" as U.S. Senator Dick Durbin once put it), which means that banks won't actually have to do things that might help the public good and the nation as a whole:
There is one simple and straightforward measure that would go a long way to avoiding another global financial crisis, and that is to substantially increase the proportion of bank equity that banks are obliged to hold. This point is put forcibly, and in plain language, in a recent book by Admati and Hellwig: The Bankers New Clothes. (Here is a short NYT piece by Admati.) Admati and Hellwig suggest the proportion of the balance sheet that is backed by equity should be something like 25%, and other estimates for the optimal amount of bank equity come up with similar numbers. The numbers that regulators are intending to impose post-crisis are tiny in comparison.

It is worth quoting the first paragraph of a FT review by Martin Wolf of their book:
“The UK’s Independent Commission on Banking, of which I was a member, made a modest proposal: the proportion of the balance sheet of UK retail banks that has to be funded by equity, instead of debt, should be raised to 4 per cent. This would be just a percentage point above the figure suggested by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The government rejected this, because of lobbying by the banks.”
Why are banks so reluctant to raise more equity capital? One reason is tax breaks that make finance using borrowing cheaper. But non-financial companies, that also have a choice between raising equity and borrowing to finance investment, typically use much more equity capital and less borrowing. If things go wrong, you can reduce dividends, but you still have to pay interest, so companies limit the amount of borrowing they do to reduce the risk of bankruptcy. But large banks are famously too big to fail. So someone else takes care of the bankruptcy risk - you and me. We effectively guarantee the borrowing that banks do. (If this is not clear, read chapter 9 of the book here.  The authors make a nice analogy with a rich aunt who offers to always guarantee your mortgage.)

The state guarantee is a huge, and ongoing, public subsidy to the banking sector. For large banks, it is of the same order of magnitude as the profits they make. We know where a large proportion of the profits go - into bonuses for those who work in those banks. The larger is the amount of equity capital that banks are forced to hold, the more the holders of that equity bear the cost of bank failure, and the less is the public subsidy. Seen in this way it becomes obvious why banks do not want to hold more equity capital - they rather like being subsidised by the state, so that the state can contribute to their bonuses. (Existing equity holders will also resist increasing equity capital, for reasons Carola Binder summarises based on the work of Admati and Hellwig and coauthors.)

This is why the argument is largely a no brainer for economists. [1] Most economists are instinctively against state subsidies, unless there are obvious externalities which they are countering. With banks the subsidy is not just an unwarranted transfer of resources, but it is also distorting the incentives for bankers to take risk, as we found out in 2007/8. Bankers make money when the risk pays off, and get bailed out by governments when it does not.

So why are economists being ignored by politicians? It is hardly because banks are popular with the public. The scale of the banking sector’s misdemeanours is incredible, as John Lanchester sets out here. I suspect many will think that banks are being treated lightly because politicians are concerned about choking off the recovery. Yet the argument that banks often make - holding equity capital represents money that is ‘tied up’ and so cannot be lent to firms and consumers - is simply nonsense. A more respectable argument is that holding much more equity capital would translate into greater costs for bank borrowers, but David Miles suggests the size of this effect would not be large. (See also Simon Johnson here, John Plender here and Thomas Hoenig here.) In any case, public subsidies are bound to be passed on to some extent, but that does not justify them. Politicians are busy trying to phase out public subsidies elsewhere, so why are banks so different?

There is one simple explanation. The power of the banking lobby (and the financial industry more generally) is immense, from campaign contributions to regulatory capture of various kinds. It would be nice to imagine that the UK was less vulnerable than the US in this respect, but there are good reasons to think otherwise. [2] As a result, the power and influence of banks and bankers within government has hardly suffered as a result of the Great Recession that they played a large part in creating.
This point bears repeating -- indeed, it ought to be repeated every day for the rest of the year. All the technical and semi-technical articles now being published about measures for getting at systemic risk and improved schemes for weighting capital and so on, however clever and interesting they may be, actually only serve to draw attention away from this most serious problem, which is institutionalized corruption plain and simple. If every finance professor wrote one article on this topic -- after all, shouldn't this really be THE main topic in finance today? -- we might one day get somewhere with fixing the financial system.

Monday, August 26, 2013

More Thoughts on Cold Training: Biology Chimes In

Now that the concept of cold training for cold adaptation and fat loss has received scientific support, I've been thinking more about how to apply it.  A number of people have been practicing cold training for a long time, using various methods, most of which haven't been scientifically validated.  That doesn't mean the methods don't work (some of them probably do), but I don't know how far we can generalize individual results prior to seeing controlled studies.

The studies that were published two weeks ago used prolonged, mild cold exposure (60-63 F air) to achieve cold adaptation and fat loss (12).  We still don't know whether or not we would see the same outcome from short, intense cold exposure such as a cold shower or brief cold water plunge.  Also, the fat loss that occurred was modest (5%), and the subjects started off lean rather than overweight.  Normally, overweight people lose more fat than lean people given the same fat loss intervention, but this possibility remains untested.  So the current research leaves a lot of stones unturned, some of which are directly relevant to popular cold training concepts.

In my last post on brown fat, I mentioned that we already know a lot about how brown fat activity is regulated, and I touched briefly on a few key points.  As is often the case, understanding the underlying biology provides clues that may help us train more effectively.  Let's see what the biology has to say.

Biology of Temperature Regulation

Read more »

Felicia - le Grand Palais - Paris

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      Felicia - le Grand Palais - Paris

      J'ai rencontré la charmante Felicia devant le Grand Palais. Elle est étudiante dans une école de
      Mode parisienne. Elle porte une marinière TopShop (Ce n'est pas la même que celle d'Arnaud
      Montebourg), un pantalon vintage et un chapeau acheté en Thaïlande. Son parfum préféré est
      "Coco Mademoiselle". Dans la vie, son rêve le plus fou était de vivre à Paris, ce qui est fait. Il
      est donc désormais de créer sa propre marque de vêtements. Son pire cauchemar est d'être
      confrontée à des vers. Je luis recommande donc le film "La Nuit des Vers Géants" un film
      d'horreur vintage que j'ai eu l'occasion de visionner. Je pense que ça lui plaira !

      Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris
  hebergeur image

What has nature done for us?

I had the opportunity last week to speak at the Edinburgh International Festival of Books alongside Tony Juniper, British environmentalist and former head of Friends of the Earth. I highly recommend his new book, What has nature ever done for us?, which examines the many ways that the natural world contributes to our well being considered in economic terms. "Many ways" is of course an absolutely absurd understatement, as the natural world essentially provides everything that makes our lives possible. But if you turn off your brain, swallow hard and actually do calculations of environmentally produced economic value -- sadly, it seems that only this approach has influence in our world where everything comes down to economic costs and benefits -- you find (without any surprise) that the value of "ecosystem services" on a yearly basis is many times current global GDP.

Personally, I think it is obvious that this is a vast underestimate, but if it is necessary to convince people who cannot think in any other terms, then so be it. The Earth's ecosystems produce the oxygen we breath. How much value is there in that? I would say it is pretty much infinite, although I'm sure someone will argue that we could, with the right hypothetical technology, produce our own oxygen and so replace those messy natural resources with industry based on our own knowledge, perhaps we'd even boost the economy in the process! Bollocks. Juniper's book is a beautifully written corrective to such nonsense.

We've evolved in delicate interdependence with our natural world; we didn't create ourselves above and beyond nature with rational thought and technology, although this is the modern illusion. Although it comes from a very different context -- A Recipe for Happiness by Rabbi Ari Kahn (courtesy of Mitch Julis of Canyon Partners) -- I think the following words hold great wisdom:
Modern man, intoxicated with his own success, is prone to hubris. He sees himself as a self-made man, and worships his ‘creator’ every time he glances in the mirror... Like Narcissus gazing into the water while perched on a rock, modern man no longer recalls where he came from, and his own self-absorption mesmerizes him. He is isolated, and because he has forgotten the past, he has no humility, no perspective, no context. At the same time, he jeopardizes his connection with the future: Only when we transmit historical consciousness to our children, and live beyond the narrow confines of the present, do we stand a chance of being appreciated by our children – rather than being rejected, in turn, as a relic from the past.

Vika Gazinskaïa - Fashion Week - Paris

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      Vika Gazinskaïa - Fashion Week - Paris

       La belle Vika est une des figures de la semaine de la Mode à Paris et une styliste de talent. Sur
       ces photos, elle porte deux de ses créations. Vous pouvez voir son travail sur son site ICI

        Photos by Fred - Easy Fashion Paris
  hebergeur imagehebergeur image

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reflections on the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium

I just returned from the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium in Atlanta.  Despite a few challenges with the audio/visual setup, I think it went well.

I arrived on Thursday evening, and so I missed a few talks that would have been interesting to attend, by Mel Konner, Nassim Taleb, Gad Saad, and Hamilton Stapell.  Dr. Konner is one of the progenitors of the modern Paleo movement.  Dr. Saad does interesting work on consummatory behavior, reward, and its possible evolutionary basis.  Dr. Stapell is a historian with an interest in the modern Paleo movement.  He got some heat for suggesting that the movement is unlikely to go truly mainstream, which I agree with.  I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with him and found him to be an interesting person.

On Friday, Chris Kresser gave a nice talk about the potential hidden costs of eradicating our intestinal parasites and inadvertently altering our gut flora.  Unfortunately it was concurrent with Chris Masterjohn so I'll have to watch his talk on fat-soluble vitamins when it's posted.  I spent most of the rest of the day practicing my talk.

On Saturday morning, I gave my talk "Insulin and Obesity: Reconciling Conflicting Evidence".  I think it went well, and the feedback overall was very positive, both on the content and the delivery.  The conference is fairly low-carb-centric and I know some people disagree with my perspective on insulin, and that's OK.   The-question-and-answer session after the talk was also productive, with some comments/questions from Andreas Eenfeldt and others.  With the completion of this talk, I've addressed the topic to my satisfaction and I don't expect to spend much more time on it unless important new data emerge.  The talk will be freely available online at some point, and I expect it to become a valuable resource for people who want to learn more about the relationship between insulin and obesity.  It should be accessible to anyone with a little bit of background in the subject, but it will also be informative to most researchers.

After my talk, I attended several other good presentations.  Dan Pardi gave a nice talk on the importance of sleep and the circadian rhythm, how it works, how the modern world disrupts it, and how to fix it.  The relationship between sleep and health is a very hot area of research right now, it fits seamlessly with the evolutionary perspective, and Pardi showed off his high level of expertise in the subject.  He included the results of an interesting sleep study he conducted as part of his doctoral work at Stanford, showing that sleep restriction makes us more likely to choose foods we perceive as unhealthy.

Sleep and the circadian rhythm was a recurrent theme at AHS13.  A lot of interesting research is emerging on sleep, body weight, and health, and the ancestral community has been quick to embrace this research and integrate it into the ancestral health template.  I think it's a big piece of the puzzle.

Jeff Rothschild gave a nice summary of the research on time-restricted feeding, body weight and health in animal models and humans.  Research in this area is expanding and the results are pretty interesting, suggesting that when you restrict a rodent's feeding window to the time of day when it would naturally consume food (rather than giving constant access during both day and night), it becomes more resistant to obesity even when exposed to a fattening diet.  Rothschild tied this concept together with circadian regulation in a compelling way.  Since food is one of the stimuli that sets the circadian clock, Rothschild proposes to eat when the sun is up, and not when it's down, synchronizing eating behavior with the natural seasonal light rhythm.  I think it's a great idea, although it wouldn't be practical for me to implement it currently.  Maybe someday if I have a more flexible schedule.  Rothschild is about to publish a review paper on this topic as part of his master's degree training, so keep your eyes peeled.

Kevin Boyd gave a very compelling talk about malocclusion (underdeveloped jaws and crowded teeth) and breathing problems, particularly those occurring during sleep.  Malocclusion is a modern epidemic with major health implications, as Dr. Boyd showed by his analysis of ancient vs. modern skulls.  The differences in palate development between our recent ancestors (less than 200 years ago) and modern humans are consistent and striking, as Weston Price also noted a century ago.  Dr. Boyd believes that changing infant feeding practices (primarily the replacement of breast feeding with bottle feeding) is the main responsible factor, due to the different mechanical stimulation it provides, and he's proposing to test that hypothesis using the tools of modern research.  He's presented his research at prestigious organizations and in high-impact scientific journals, so I think this idea may really be gaining traction.  Very exciting.

I was honored when Dr. Boyd told me that my 9-part series on malocclusion is what got him interested in this problem (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).  His research has of course taken it further than I did, and as a dentist his understanding of malocclusion is deeper than mine.  He's a middle-aged man who is going back to school to do this research, and his enthusiasm is palpable.  Robert Corruccini, a quality anthropology researcher and notable proponent of the idea that malocclusion is a "disease of civilization" and not purely inherited, is one of his advisers.

There were a number of excellent talks, and others that didn't meet my standards for information quality.  Overall, an interesting conference with seemingly less drama than in previous years.

Oily Rags and Greasy Fingers Show, at the Bristol Bike Show

Saturday was supposed to be a rest day for myself, but as soon as I heard that
Oily Rags and Greasy Fingers were putting on a show as part of the Bristol Bike Festival I couldn't resist packing up the sketchbook and pen to see why I could sketch......

Triumph Bobber

(ink sketch)
Rob from Oily Rags Triumph was centre stage in the show and deservedly so, there are some great elements on this bike especially the curvaceous almost horse saddle inspired seat.

Yamaha Chopper

(ink sketch)
Owned by Ben from Sideburn Magazine, I was hoping to sketch this bike at Dirt Quake II, and so I was glad I could sit with it in more static conditions.

It wasn't only bikes on display at the show art adorned the walls....

Adi Gilbert

 Great to see some original line work on the walls
The Bubble Visor Girls as commissioned by Chester Belter

I first saw Adi's work in Sideburn Magazine in the form of the Dirt Quake poster and I have been an avid fan since. The main thing I enjoy about Adi's work is the fact that he inks by hand using brush and ink, with a fluid and natural style. Adi has produced illustration work for both Motorcycle magazines and BMX companies as well as various other clients. 
To see more of his work go to his webste 99 Seconds . Also check out his own clothing brand Folklore which looks to have some fantastic goodies in the pipeline.

Ben Cheshire

not only does Ben create great screen prints like this for himself he also runs his own print studio Mesh which has produced some great print editions for various clients most
notably D Face.
 ... and here's Ben's BSA

Meanwhile outside bikes swamped the streets....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Update of Census 2011 map app

My Census 2011 map app has just been updated with Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) data.  For each index there are two measures available for mapping: index value and decile it falls within (ie. comparing to all postcodes in Australia). The indexes can be used for a number of different purposes, including targeting areas for business and services, strategic planning and social and economic research (for more in depth examples see: How to Use SEIFA).

Briefly about SEIFA. It is a suite of four indexes that have been created from social and economic Census information. Each index ranks geographic areas across Australia in terms of their relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. The four indexes in SEIFA 2011 are:
  • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD)
  • Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD)
  • Index of Economic Resources (IER)
  • Index of Education and Occupation (IEO)

Full explanation of each index is available from the ABS.

As a side comment, working with the updated version of Fusion Tables got me thinking that the writing is on the wall as to the future of this service… It is well on the path to share a place in history with many other Google initiatives that now are just a distant memory. The concept is great but the execution is very cumbersome. Hmm, perhaps an opportunity?

Related posts:

Is Google the Internet?

The dependence of the world on Google has been widely acknowledged but how much real influence Google has on the Internet is difficult to measure. A glimpse of the magnitude was given last Friday when Google services were “disconnected” for a few minutes. According to web analytics firm GoSquared, worldwide internet traffic dipped by a stunning 40 per cent during the brief minutes that the Google services were offline. I have seen it happening to individual Google services, which normally goes unnoticed, but it is the first time outage happened on such a large scale.

There is good news and bad news in this story for all Internet participants. In particular, if we leave aside the obvious questions about implications of storing data and reliance on services in the cloud, the next important issue is whether Google is the Internet or... not quite yet. If what happened leads to the conclusion that yes, Google is the Internet, then we all have no choice but to play by Google rules (ie. don’t do anything that will get us penalised and banish form Google’s “circle of influence”). But it would be a sorry state of affairs for all us non-conformists…

However, it could also be argued that the event provides the evidence to the contrary. This in turn would allow to conclude that there is a glimpse of hope for those who do not like to play by Google rules - it demonstrates that the part of the Internet not controlled by Google is big enough to allow the luxury of having a total disregard for “Google antics”. There is quite a crowd of people engaged in that part of the Internet: using alternative search engines (like Bing or duck duck go - which is gaining quickly in popularity), using alternative email (I must admit, I always used Yahoo and find their new email better than Gmail), using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. social media rather than Google+, using alternative map services, cloud services, blog services and myriad of other convenient tools that are not controlled by Google. That world is thriving if you care to venture there!

It is needless to say that the best outcome for individuals and organisations is if you play nicely with Google (ie. when you must, like for example, to generate search traffic to your site or get access to certain unique service offerings) but also explore other parts of the Internet that give you freedom of doing things your way.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Can-Am Commission

After meeting Chris Marsh of Canned-Ham at the Telford Twin Shock Show earlier in the year he asked me to paint two of his Can Am bikes here's the final pieces.

If you want anything to do with Can-Am mx bikes then Chris is your man, go to:

Gloucestershire Steam Extravaganza, South Cerney Airfield, 2013

After having such a great time at the Gloucester Steam Extravaganza last year I decided that I had to go back, this time I took the family for an outing 
and fitted in a couple of sketches too:

Patricia B

1931 Fowler 10 Ton DNA
(ink sketch)

This commission was booked earlier in the year at the Tractor World show and I had been looking forward to it very much. When I met Ian on the rally field he offered to take my sketching bag and let me steer the roller to a better spot to sketch it. My jaw hit the floor and I instantly climbed on board. It was a great experience both sketching the roller (5 hours) and meeting the Mason family who were so generous with letting not only myself but my wife and son have a go on the roller.
Now for a bit of history, Founded by John Fowler an agricultural engineer and inventor, Fowlers was a leeds based manufacturer of steam engines. John Fowler is credited with the invention of steam-driven ploughing engines. On 4 December 1864 John died following a hunting accident. After his death, John Fowler & Co., was then continued by Robert Fowler and Robert Eddison. In 1886 the limited company of John Fowler & Co., (Leeds) Ltd., was formed. It merged with Marshall, Sons & Co., Ltd., of Gainsborough in 1947 to form Marshall-Fowler Ltd.

This particular Fowler roller started work for West Riding County Council Yorkshire in 1931, it then moved to Corfields, Abermule, Wales. After finishing working in Abermule in 1963 it was sold to Liz Mason of Newport Wales. Ray Mathews of Muchwenlock then owned it for 19 years. The Roller gained it's name Patricia B from Ray's late wife. Ian bought it from Ray, Ian and his son Lewis have now owned the engine for about 2 years.

1945 Field Marshal

(ink and watercolour)

This Field Marshal has been lovingly restored over 2 years by Gordon Bedwell and his father. The tractor worked on the same farm all its life until 1968 when it was put in a hedge and left. The tractor was in a pretty bad state after being left outside for so long, many people would have used it for spares or left it alone. However Gordon and his father had a good reason to bring it back to life as it was driven by Gordons Grandfather for the majority of it's life and so this restoration is a fitting tribute to him.

Here's a few photos...

 1911 Marshal 12hp Portable Engine.
Worked in a sawmill in Santiago Chile.
Aveling and Porter Traction Engine

 Nuffield 10/60 and Living Wagon
 1958 James Trials
 20's OK Bradshaw
 I think this is a oil cooled engine...
Nice Bantam Competition replica

 An interesting duo of CZ scooters
Early Matchless
 Lovely Scammell mid restoration, it was quite a sight seeing this in the Tesco car park!

 Great Bus line up as usual
Two tractors that I'd love to own side by side.
Farmall Cub and a John Deere BR