A few minutes ago, the Central London constituency of Kensington was declared for Labour candidate Emma Dent Coad, who defeated incumbent MP Lady Victoria Borwick by 20 votes.
Imagine Bernie Sanders winning Kenilworth, Ill., or Beverly Hills, Calif., and you have a good idea how weird this is. Citylab explains:
[T]he richest cluster of neighborhoods in Europe has just for the first time in its history voted in an MP from the center-left Labour Party.
It may be understandably hard for an American reader to understand how seismic this shift is. The U.K.’s Labour Party, which first rose to prominence as an explicitly socialist party in the 1920s, has never had much of a foothold with the old guard that Kensington is associated with. It’s historically been to the left of U.S. Democrats, a position it has returned to under current leader Jeremy Corbyn, who's stood on a platform of nationalizing railways and postal services and abolishing university fees. This isn’t like citizens of the Upper East Side or Bel Air cheerleading for Hillary. It’s like raising the red flag over Downton Abbey.
That’s because, despite its wealth, Kensington is one of the most drastically unequal areas in all of Britain.
The residents behind the doors of Kensington’s rows of lavish Victorians may not have voted Conservative because they are not eligible to vote in Britain or are too disconnected from British politics by wealth and habit to care overly about who represents a place they merely breeze through. That means that Kensington’s electoral decisions are increasingly being made by those who remain in the district full-time, who might as well be living on a completely different planet.
In the area’s northern reaches, it’s a different story. A place where pretty Victorian streets give way densely populated public housing (including Brutalist icon the Trellick Tower) this area doesn’t look at all bad, and is even somewhat chi-chi in patches. Much of it is still populated by an ethnically diverse range of residents who, in austerity-hit Britain, are having a very tough time indeed. Their homes may be located within 15 minutes walk of some of the world’s wealthiest citizens, but poorer residents’ access to good jobs and (beyond public housing tenancies guarded like Fabergé eggs) affordable housing is limited and getting worse.
The political storm that flipped Kensington is happening on a wider scale across the U.K.
Last night was such an embarrassment for Teresa May it's just hard to wrap my head around it. She's made a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to form a coalition, so she'll hang on to her job. But the DUP's 10 seats plus the Tories' 318 give her a two-vote majority in the 650-seat House of Commons—not exactly a mandate. So when's the next election? On an over-under, I'd bet on before the end of 2018.
Via a longtime reader, geologists have new evidence clarifying how Britain split off from the European mainland 450,000 YBP:
Researchers have found geological proof of one theory, that a catastrophic flood sparked massive waterfalls that cut through the rock ridge running through what's now the Dover Strait.
Analysis of [sonar] imagery, alongside existing supporting data, has led Collier and Gupta to report that Britain left Europe via a much more catastrophic route than erosion simply nibbling away at our connection to the continent. Instead, a glacial lake — perhaps sparked by an earthquake — over spilled its bounds in giant torrents of water.
"The waterfalls were so huge they left behind the plunge pools, some several kilometres in diameter and 100 metres deep in solid rock, running in a line from Calais to Dover," Collier said.
The chalky escarpment - similar to the cliffs at Dover - fell apart and released an epic flood, partially washing away the British land bridge to Europe.
That event wasn't enough to entirely separate the UK from Europe, with the final breach caused by a second megaflood that followed the first by as much as a hundred thousand years.
They conclude, "Had the initial flood not happened, the researchers added that Britain could still be connected to Europe, jutting out the same way Denmark does today."
Stuff I'll read before rehearsal today:
Back to the mines...
Even though there are about 58 hours left in the year, I still have work to do. Meanwhile, a few things to read have crossed my RSS feeds:
OK, back to work.
I didn't spend a lot of time blogging this weekend. Once I have a chance to go through the photos I took in London, I'll post some. (Probably Thursday.)
Yesterday's flight to London took only 6 hours, 37 minutes from wheels-up to landing. That is, in fact, the fastest I've ever gotten from O'Hare to Heathrow, by 8 minutes. I am impressed.
Via Deeply Trivial, the Stack Overflow blog comes up with some answers:
Here on the Stack Overflow data team we don't have to hypothesize about where developers are and what they use: we can measure it! By analyzing our traffic, we have a bird's eye view of who visits Stack Overflow, and what technologies they're working on. Here we'll show some examples of what we can detect about each city based on one year of Stack Overflow traffic.
London has the highest percentage of developers using the Microsoft stack: while New York had more Microsoft-related traffic than San Francisco, here we see London with a still greater proportion. Since both London and New York are financial hubs, this suggests we were right that Microsoft technologies tend to be associated with financial professionals.
Just another reason why I think London and I should get more deeply acquainted.
All of these articles look interesting, and I hope I get to read them:
Oh, fun! Another meeting!
The Chicago Tribune reports that the annoying trend of using smaller airplanes for longer routes is taking off over the Atlantic:
The re-engined 737 Max and A320neo jets offer a 15 percent fuel saving meant to cut costs on the shortest inter-city services. At the same time the revamp has added about 800 km to their range -- just enough to allow the narrow-bodies to span the 5,000 km between the eastern U.S. and Western Europe.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, JetBlue Airways and Portugal's TAP are among airlines buying the jets for trans-Atlantic routes, with NAS set to lead the way when it becomes one of the first carriers to get Boeing's Max 8 next year. Its initial flights may link Edinburgh, Birmingham in England and Cork and Shannon in Ireland to smaller airports in New England and the New York area.
Yeah, 8 hours in a 737 or A320 does not sound fun. The only exception I'd make is for BA flights 1, 2, 3, and 4, which are 32-seat, all-business-class A319s that fly between London City and JFK. Of course, they're not exactly marketing to price-conscious leisure travelers: a round trip on that route will set you back about $6,000. And one more thing: the return trip tops up its fuel tanks in Shannon, Ireland, because even a stripped-down A319 can't make it all the way from London to New York yet.
Workers digging London's Crossrail tunnel have helped uncover a 350-year-old mystery about the Great Plague:
[T]he Great Plague...killed 100,000 Londoners (roughly a quarter of the city’s population) around 350 years ago.
Last year, workers constructing a future new ticket hall at Liverpool Street Station unearthed a charnel pit adjoining the old Bedlam Hospital, in which 3,000 skeletons were interred. Now it turns out that some of these skeletons had the answer to a centuries’ old mystery, hidden away in their teeth.
Scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute took samples from the teeth of 20 of these corpses, and this week confirmed what historians have long suspected but been unable to prove: London's Great Plague was caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacteria, exactly the same pestilence that killed around one-third of Europe's population in the 14th century, under the name the Black Death.
The BBC has more.