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I want to test the Wisdom of Crowds theory that I talked about some time ago, so what better example than the fast approaching Irish General Election? I decided yesterday evening to spend some time looking at Paddy Power’s betting on the outcome, candidate by candidate.

Based strictly on the odds being offered and the number of seats available, the analysis breaks down this way:

Fianna Fail: 72-73*

Fine Gael: 49-50

Labour: 16-18

Green: 9

Sinn Féin: 8

Progressive Democrats: 2

Others: 8

(In two constituencies, Wicklow and Kerry South, the odds were the same for last place, so I have shown a range instead of a single number).

If this were true, high profile casualties would include Ruairi Quinn, Joan Burton, Donie Cassidy, Jackie-Healy Rae, Niall Blaney, Tom Parlon, Liz O’Donnell, Martin Mansergh and Michael Woods.

This scenario is something of a nightmare for the two major political alliances. It leaves Fianna Fail and the PD’s with 75 seats and a “rainbow” coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens with 77 seats: well shy of the 84 seats needed to form a new government. Both coalitions would need the support of independents and possibly even Sinn Féin.

If this prediction comes true, the only viable administration would be a Fianna Fáil / Labour alliance (and how long that would last is anyone’s guess).

In any case there is plenty of room for manoeuvre. The number of listed candidates that are almost certain to win is 75. 190 other candidates will have a fight on their hands if they are to win one of the remaining 91 seats**.

More detailed information on each candidate can be found in the attached PDF. Let’s see what transpires tomorrow, shall we?

Election Predictions 2007

* Rory O’Hanlon (FF) is already deemed elected since he was Ceann Comhairle (chairman) in the last Dáil.

** My calculations are based on a “definite” being a bet of 10-1 on (91%) or greater, and a “close call” being less than 10-1 on but greater than or equal to 4-1 (20%).

Update: I had to revise my calculations because I was previously showing probabilities of 2000%, etc, which is ridiculous – a probability can not be greater than one!

These ones are a bit different, but I thought I would share them with you anyway.

Niagara Falls (Horseshoe)

The Niagara Falls (Horseshoe Falls) from a slightly different perspective.

A building in North York

Reflections on a building in North York

Reflections in a Whirlpool

Whirlpool, Niagara Gorge.

CN Tower and birds

CN Tower from Centre Island

Shrek the Third

Just before I left Canada, I went to see “Shrek the Third” with my son and nephew.

Let me ask this – why do sequels (and, in this case, sequels of sequels) always become so lame? I mean, the characters of Shrek, Fiona and Donkey are well developed enough for a hundred Shrek movies, but the plot – AAAARGH. It’s now becoming a question of “how long can we string together enough one-liners to make a full movie?”.

Not that the one-liners or humorous scenes were particularly bad – they were often quite good – especially Puss in Boots’ helpful advice to Shrek on him realising that Fiona was pregnant (and no – I haven’t spoilt it yet – what did you expect after Shrek II? A divorce? Wait ’til Shrek IV..), it’s just that the story was so flimsy it could have been invented by a five-year old. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why my movie companions enjoyed it a bit more that me..

What I particularly enjoyed about the first Shrek was the black humour. Who can forget the scene with the exploding bird? Nothing of the sort sullies this screenplay, so we are left with a rather “safe” movie that the whole family can enjoy – aaaah. In this movie all the bad guys are seen as misunderstood and more interested in gardening than being evil. Oh diddums.

I’m beginning to think that Pixar have it right. Produce a kick-ass animated movie like Monsters Inc., or The Incredibles and then leave it alone! If you really want to extend the franchise with lame plots and one-liners, then TV’s your only man.

I’ve gone on far too long. I have. This is the reason I wrote it. I’ll finish now.

I’ve been tagged by Teuchter, so here goes..

  1. I have four kids, including two identical twin boys. They are three years old – how the house is still standing is beyond me..
  2. I have experienced a 7.6 magnitude earthquake (Turkey, 1999).
  3. I was in Australia once – for 2 days.
  4. I love astronomy – I have seen the aurora borealis, an incredible meteor shower and the space shuttle jettisoning its tanks shortly after take-off.
  5. I love walking along coastlines – particularly rocks and cliffs. The scarier and more dramatic, the better.
  6. I used to speak the Irish language quite fluently.
  7. I got married a few hours before Princess Diana died. Whatever Mohammed Al Fayed says, I don’t believe there is a relationship between these two events :-)..
  8. I wrote a full adventure game, based on Shelob’s Lair in the Lord of the Rings, at the age of 14. Only two people ever played it.

And now, on to Pirlam, who might have a few things to say..

Toronto from Centre Island

Today is our last day in the beautiful city of Toronto before we return back home to life-as-usual. And what a week it’s been!

My sister’s wedding was wonderful – the location was terrific, both of them were in wonderful form, nothing went wrong all day, and she looked utterly beautiful! My son and nephew got top marks for their behaviour and their presence added to the family occasion of the visit, earning them a visit to the Disney shop the following day. Here is what Big-A picked up for himself! (Why am I not surprised?)

Captn Sparrow

We managed to pack a lot into the week. We visited Centre Island (twice), the Science Museum, the (rather cloudy) CN Tower, the Niagara Falls, and we got some shopping done between trips. My son managed to learn how to swim somewhere along the way too. We have both been visiting the swimming pool here almost daily.

Feel the fear and do it anyway The CN Tower in the clouds Dad and son in Toronto

Toronto is impressive from a number of angles: it’s a decidedly multicultural city (more even than Chicago or London) where people seem at home with each other. I’ve a feeling it’s a model for many cities and communities around the world. It’s clean, polite (people readily open doors for others and random acts of kindness are commonplace, even from the most unlikely-looking of characters).


Driving can be a nightmare at times though – I witnessed some beauts yesterday! On my way back from the Falls, one guy in a SUV crossed three lanes in one sudden movement in order to exit the motorway at the last moment. It was like something out of a cop movie.

I’ve had one of the best weeks of my life – not just because of the location, but because of the people I was with. It was a perfect family occasion, many thousands of miles from home.

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried..

On March 28th of this year, Richard Downes of RTE radio show Morning Ireland interviewed Councillor Colm Wiley (FF) of Clare County Council. Here is the interview (go down to “Deer causing havoc in Co Clare”. You’ll need RealPlayer), and here is the transcript…

Richard Downes: Next to County Clare and a problem with deer. Councillor Colm Wiley is on the line to tell us more about this. You’ve got a problem with deer in County Clare, is that right?

Colm Wiley:
Yes, good morning Richard. Yes, we have a serious problem. Deer have become numerous. Years ago they were a very rare sight to see one deer but now you can see up to as many as ten, fifteen, up to twenty, grazing on the land of farmers, and they’re doing terrible damage, utter damage of course, apart from the fact they’re eating the grass, they are also driving the cattle berserk and they’re coming out onto the roadways and they’re causing accidents to motorists and everything at night time.

Richard Downes: And you want them shot.

Colm Wiley: Yeah, we want them culled some way, and er, there are rangers there to do the job but they are so numerous they wouldn’t be able to come and get on top of them so I requested that the army come and be of assistance to us, but Minister O’Dea seemingly feels that they have more to do than coming out to help the people of rural Ireland and that is the fact.

Richard Downes: But I think the Defense Minister, Willie O’Dea said that the army actually had better things to do than going around the country, em, shooting deer. You can kind of see his point, can’t you?

Colm Wiley: I can but, what, what are they doing? The only thing I see of them going around the country is minding the money being transported to banks, other than..

Richard Downes: A couple of missions in West Africa don’t they, and in Central Europe, so they are actually very busy and stretched. So, the deer problem is so significant, you say down in County Clare, that this is the only option that you have, is it?

Colm Wiley: That is the only option we have because they graze at night time and early in the mornings and it’s not the easiest of things to do to shoot them, but you can get within a hundred metres of them. One time you wouldn’t get within four hundred metres of deer, but it’s come around they are a bit more domesticated and one can get within a hundred metres of them and you know, it’s possible to cull them, and we need assistance.

Richard Downes: And who owns the deer?

Colm Wiley: Who owns? Sure, the deer are wild. They live in the forestry and, in actual fact, they are doing damage to the forestation too because they are eating the barks of the trees, but then of course the grass is more palatable for them so they will come out and it’s well known that fourteen or fifteen deer – I was with a farmer last night over in Tulla and he explained to me that fifteen deer would eat more grass than twenty cattle, and you know, it is very serious.

Richard Downes: We have our own native species – the Red Deer – very small numbers of those.

Colm Wiley: Yeah the Red Deer, and the Fallow, yes it’s mainly Red Deer now we have here. Mainly Red. But of course again you might have a bit of crossing between Red and Fallow, but it’s mainly the Red ones. And, you see twenty, fifteen, sixteen of them, and we have a lot of forestation in Clare and they tend to shelter in the woods and come out then to eat and go back in again.

Richard Downes: Yeah – you were – er, am I, am I reading this correctly – are you worried about them interbreeding with cattle?

Colm Wiley: Yes. It’s possible that sooner or later, because in County Clare, most of our agricultural industry is related to the suckling industry, so people have cows and heifers way out in the fields, way out away from houses and its very possible that, at the end of the day, stags could come in contact with them. They are, stags are grazing with them, they are in mingling in between them every day and every night so it’s very possible that you could have interbreeding and if they did..

Richard Downes: Have you ever come across a case of interbreeding between cows and deer?

Colm Wiley: Well no, but I have seen some red weanlings and I thought myself there was a little bit of a strain in them so, they seemed to be very alert, so it’s very possible that if this comes in to being we could have seriously alert animals altogether.

Richard Downes: (laughing) Ok we’ll leave it there, Councillor Colm Wiley, thank you very much..

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