Search This Blog

Friday, 31 December 2021



     Celia Hatton, my Anglo-Canadian second cousin's daughter, is currently an Asian news editor for the BBC. 

   Celia has a strong voice about Chinese affairs and conspiracy theories. She is the spitting image of her Anglo-American grandmother, my dear 'Auntie' Audrey, who lived kitty-corner from me in Mannamead, Plymouth, and Celia's parents are both from Plymouth. Her mother was financed by a local Nancy Astor scholarship to study in Virginia.

Celia's great grandmother Olive Hunt was my grandfather Emmanuel Leonard's favourite sister., and one of my favourite relatives. I remember helping to paint her cottage on Thornhill Way when I was a teenager,

View from the Sir Francis Drake Bowling Club
Mannamead, Plymouth. The former house of the Tory Lord Mayor, Leslie Paul, is on the right.

      My wife Valerie and I visited the Hatton family in Hamilton, Ontario in 1978 when I was on sabbatical in Kingston, and I recall us all eating pasties in Niagara on the Lake together. Celia's father Mark Hatton  (Ph.D., London 1972) is now an emeritus professor at McMaster University.

     Rumours about who Celia is married to abound. Her mysterious partner has also influenced the right-wing BBC view of Chinese politics., Celia's reporting is regarded as prize-winning in the West, and she has been much praised by CBS.

I am concerned about the way the BBC continues to give its unequivocal support to the neo-liberal post-colonialist post-Kuomintang Taiwanese government that represses 700000 or so foreign workers, most harshly in the fishing industry, and denies full taxpayer and property rights to the populace.
 Taiwan's annual military budget of $11.5 billion compares with China's $252 billion and the USA's $778 billion. Taiwan therefore depends upon the USA and other Western powers for its defence.
Many of the Taiwanese islands, e.g. the Kinmen Islands, are perilously close to the mainland, and should have been politically integrated with mainland China years ago.

""But video is freely available on the BBC showing uniformed and plain-clothes police officers surrounding the BBC's Damian Grammaticas, roughing him up and pulling his hair before pushing him into a van and then repeatedly slamming the door on his legs""

Ernest, Edward, and Emmanuel Leonard

The journalist Professor Gregg Birnbaum of New York City is one of my many distant cousins. His Canadian mother Joy was a (daughter or) granddaughter of my great uncle Ernest Leonard and his wife Rosie Leonard, and Joy was married to the controversial President of the New York Stock Exchange Bob Birnbaum during the 1980s. My parents Cecil and Gwen  visited Joy and Bob during that period, and took them pasties purchased in Teddywedgers on State Street, Madison, Wisconsin, My colleagues at UW Madison were most impressed,

Teddywedgers, Madison, Wisconsin


Tuesday, 28 December 2021



                                                                    Johnny Newman

                               John Newman's Innovations for Plymouth Argyle

      I watched Johnny Newman score from Wilf Carter's tap pass in 1960 (Plymouth 3 Aston Villa 5 in epic League cup replay). Then in 1964 I watched Mike Trebilcock score from John Newman's tap pass (Plymouth 3 Man City 2). Steve Rhodes and John Eales think that Newman may have learnt the trick from Peter Doherty in testimonial matches.

                               Two-Man Penalties Video History (1957-2019)

                               Guardian Article

                               Five Cheeky Penalty Passes

Sunday, 26 December 2021


                                                             CHRISTIAN FOOD PARCEL



                                 OH COME ALL  YE CHRISTIAN GENTLEFOLK

                                 WHY DON'T YE PRAY


                                TO BE SENT AN EXTRA FOOD PARCEL  EACH WEEK?

                                HOW CAN WE FEAST WHILE THEY  FREEZE?

                                HOW CAN WE TURN THE BLIND EYE

                                WHILE THE VOICES FROM BELOW DISSIPATE

                                AND THEIR BODIES DISINTEGRATE?


                                 FROM THEIR PLATES

                                 TO THEIR CAREFULLY SELECTED NON-CHARITIES,


                                 AND SHUN THE BEGGARS AT THE DOOR.


                                  WHY ALL THE STUFF ON SUNDAYS

                                  ABOUT UPHOLDING THE ABSENT POOR?

                                   PUT YOUR EXPRESSED BELIEFS INTO ACTION,

                                   AND REST HAPPY FOR EVERMORE.



                        Copyright Plymouth Argyle Football Club and author Colin Parsons

"Unique indeed was the football match at Home Park, Plymouth, yesterday afternoon. The famous enclosure of the Argyle Club was the scene of a game between teams representing the strikers and the Plymouth Police. Residents in the usually tranquil parts of Mutley and Peverell were awakened from their afternoon quietude by the sound of tramping feet and echoing cheers. What was the invasion? they asked, and were quite reassured when they found it to be only the march of the strikers to Home Park for their football match with the Plymouth Police team. Motor and other vehicles were unable to proceed, so dense was the mass as it slowly wended its way through the broad highways, but everyone seemed to enter into the spirit of the march, which was carried out in a most orderly manner. Over a thousand persons had already assembled at the Argyle ground when the main body of demonstrators arrived, and the grand-stand was quite full. Each side had a good cheer as they took the field, to be followed by Mrs. H. H. Sanders, who was accompanied by the Chief Constable. After preliminary handshakes had been exchanged, the Chief Constable's wife kicked off, and as she returned to the edge of the enclosure she was accorded hearty cheers, which Mr. Sanders acknowledged."

It was a remarkable day in Plymouth's history. As for the game, the strikers won 2-1.


An exceptional photo of the strikers and police (The police are doubtlessly wearing the striped shirts--T.L.)

Saturday, 25 December 2021



           I spent an enjoyable day indulging in Julie's festive fare with her teenage daughters and Scott. Both the Queen's speech and Santa Claus: The Movie got a bit boring, but we enjoyed opening the presents, and then Scott, Julie, and I engaged in five hours of very serious Scrabble. I had VEN officially disallowed as a triple word score, even though it means venerable. Scott made a great double word score with JEWELS, but Julie introduced the word MOBO (music of black origin) and scored a famous victory by winning a tough game with over 200 points! Then it was back to my flat, where I fell asleep watching the Green Bay Packers beating the Cleveland Browns, I caught up with the highlights (including Aaron Rodgers' two record breaking touchdowns and lots of interceptions) at 4 a,.m,


                                              DZO--A HYBRID OF A COW AND A YAK

                                              DAKOIIIS--- INSTAGRAM PHOTOS

Thursday, 23 December 2021



When I was a pupil at Sutton High School, Regent Street, Plymouth (1959-66), I would catch the bus across Mutley Plain and along the Tavistock Road, and disembark by the public library, with the gaunt, grey buildings of Plymouth Technical College opposite. But by 1992, the technical college had been replaced by the modern buildings of the University, that overlook the vast historical expanse of Plymouth Sound (from whence Hawkins, Drake, Raleigh, and their contemporaries once sailed to found the British Empire, albeit on the back of their cruel and barbaric slave trading)

       One of the main university buildings is named after Lady Nancy Astor MP whose statue was recently erected on Plymouth Hoe not far from Sir Francis Drake's.

       I visited my hometown frequently after I returned from the U.S. in 1995. During December 1998, I presented a seminar to the statisticians in the university based upon my paper with John Hsu (Biometrika, 1997). David Wright (now retired) and Julian Stander were most hospitable, and John Eales (pictured immediately below) encouraged me to watch Plymouth Argyle (from the stands rather than the terraces of my youth). The Pilgrims beat Carlisle United by a score of two to nil, and the second goal was, as I remember, scored from a mighty distance.

      David Wright subsequently visited Edinburgh as external examiner for my student Orestis Papasouliotis's Ph.D. thesis and focussed on the applications of Statistics in Geophysics which we'd developed with Ian Main. Julian Stander presented a seminar in our King's Buildings, and joined us for dinner in Ciao Roma Then I visited Plymouth to give a Ph.D. viva for one of Dave's students. Julian was the internal examiner,

      In 2002, I attended the Royal Statistical Society Annual Conference on the main Plymouth campus. Many statisticians attended including Terry Speed and my friend Steve Fienberg. The conference dinner across Dartmoor in Buckland Abbey Barn will be long remembered, and I was able to continue my acquaintances with Julian and Dave.

      During the nineteen years since I last visited, the statisticians at Plymouth have created an epicentre that influences the whole of Devon, Cornwall, and beyond, for example in Big Data analysis, medical statistics, sports statistics, and statistical education. The statisticians at the University of Exeter are of course pre-eminent in public health and environmental and climate change statistics.




Victoria Allgar (Ph.D. Newcastle) has recently been appointed from Hull University as the Professor of Medical Statistics in the Peninsula Medical School (in Plymouth Science Park In Derriford) that is run in partnership with the University of Exeter. She is Director of the Peninsula Clinical Trial Unit that is involved in clinical and applied health and care research. She is ably assisted by Senior Research Fellows Dr. Amy Baker, who specialises in Down Syndrome screening and Dr. Joanne Hosking, who focuses on Statistics and Numeracy, and by their talented, locally qualified research assistant Jade Chynoweth

Four of the statisticians in Mathematical Sciences are involved in the interdisciplinary  BIG DATA GROUPwhose principal aim is to develop novel research methodology to solve Big Data problems in biomedicine. business engineering, environmental monitoring, epidemiology, finance, medical imaging, multi-media, public health, social science and visualisation.

The statisticians in the Big Data group  are Drs. Yinghui Wei, Luciana Dalla Valle, Julian Stander, and Alessandro Cardinali.

       For example, Associate Professor Yinghui Wei has made important contributions to meta analysis and to the effects of exposure to the Zika virus during pregnancy.

Research in Statistics and Data Science is grouped around five areas: modelling and inference, statistical learning, applications to medicine and health, applications to business and finance, and statistical education. 

Particular areas of expertise include multivariate dependency and time series modelling, data integration, social media information extraction, evidence synthesis and meta-analysis, and business internationalisation.

Also in Mathematical Sciences, some of Dr. Malgorzata Wojtys's research stems from her doctoral research at the University of Warsaw on the estimation of probability density functionals by model selection. This is an extremely valuable area in terms of application, that also relates to my own research interests, for example her joint paper:

Mielniczuk J., WojtyÅ› M. (2014) P-value model selection criteria for exponential families of increasing dimension. Metrika 77, 257 – 284.

More recently, Dr. Wojtys has published valuable contributions on copula models.


Statistician John Eales (Ph.D. Bath, 1991) is Deputy Head of the School of Engineering, Computing, and Mathematics. He focusses on the way Statistics is taught to students and the community and the way Statistics is used to enhance Science and social endeavour.

In their quite inspiring REF Impact Case Study (please watch fantastic video) John Eales and Associate Professor Julian Stander use highly original Bayesian statistical techniques e.g to analyse vision data for school children, and sports data e.g. concerning Plymouth Argyle. There are a number of powerful social messages e.g. relating to discrimination against black footballers, The great Argyle player Jack Leslie was denied a cap for England because he was black. My father watched him play in the 1920s and 30s, He thought that the way Leslie combined with Sammy Black was phenomenal to watch.

      The statisticians in Mathematical Sciences have increased pupil and public participation with the mathematical sciences through school taster days and Plymouth Argyle Football Club. John Eales has been closely associated with the club for the last few years.

    Emeritus Professor Neville Davies also has interests in statistical education.

       During our pre-Christmas correspondence John and I have referred to my memories about Argyle from the 1960s. Charlton Athletic defeated Argyle 6 to 4 at home on Boxing Day 1960, only to lose 6 to 4 the very next day at Home Park, with Wilf Carter scoring 5 of Plymouth's goals, John advises me that Argyle has won 6 to 4 on 5 separate occasions, a fascinating statistic. This is Football League record, which Argyle share with Wolves (Steve Rhodes)



See also

             Has English Football become less exciting?

             by Statso (John Eales), Stander, and Cortina Borja

John and I are currently analysing a two-way contingency table recording numbers of goals scored for and against Plymouth Argyle, by fitting a quasi-independence model, and looking for deviations from the conditional independence assumption

Here is the frequency distribution of scores in Argyle’s matches in the Football League, with goals for recorded in the first column and goals against recorded in the first row:

A picture containing text, white

Description automatically generated

e.g. 107 of Argyle's 4,192 matches have finished as 3-2 victories and only 90 as 3-2 defeats.



      Julian Stander and his co-authors have also contributed important analyses of the coronovirus data, which were published in the Royal Statistical Society journal Significance:

                Returning to Schools and Universities at times of Coronavirus

                          by Sebastiani and Stander

                Some comparisons between the Italy and the UK for Covid 19

                         by Sebastiani, Stander, and Cortina Borja


     The Statistics group in Mathematical Sciences runs a splendid final year module called Data Modelling that even covers Bayesian statistical inference. Bayesian inference using MCMC is simulated using Stan. Bayesian multi-level modelling is covered on the Mathematical Education Project module.


As Dennis V. Lindley once said, "The inference is in the posterior distribution."

This is of  course only true if your statistical model is assumed to be perfectly correctly specified, and, as George E.P. Box repeatedly said "All models are wrong, though some are useful."

Also in the Mathematical Sciences  group, Dr Alessandro Cardinali has made important contributions to applications of wavelets in time series analysis and to stochastic volatility in time series (with applications in Economics)

Furthermore, Associate Professor Luciana Dalla Valle has worked on a variety of statistical techniques and applications, including generalised logistic regression and a Bayesian analysis of immigration in Europe.


A very vibrant Statistics group indeed!


Wednesday, 22 December 2021




ON 22 December 2021 I was unexpectedly diagnosed with skin cancer in my eyelid at the Princess Alexendra Eye Pavilion, and I am now awaiting surgery, I have every confidence in the outstanding treatment which I am receiving from Dr. Jan Kerr , Dr. Young, and their team

        During October 2011, a melanoma on my wrist was successfully removed in the nearby Dermatology Clinic. The treatment was again outstanding

          Here is a short fictional story which I wrote subsequent to the previous surgery. The characters are totally fictional

                                              JOE'S MOLE


Tuesday, 21 December 2021





Jesus: I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23).

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (Matthew 21:12).

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth (Matthew 6:24).

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." -Proverbs 31:8-9

"If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.  The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields."- Ecclesiastes 5:8-9

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." -Proverbs 21:13

"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished." -Proverbs 17:5

He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty." -Proverbs 22:16

He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses." -Proverbs 28:27

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." -1 Timothy 6:9-10

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." -1 Timothy 6:17-19

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." -Ezekiel 16:49.

Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse." -Proverbs 28:6

"A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished." -Proverbs 28:20

"The rich are wise in their own eyes;
    one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are."-Proverbs 28:11.

"The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." -Proverbs 29:7

"Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death." -Proverbs 11:4

"Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them." -Proverbs 22:22-23

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender"- Proverbs 22:7

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." -Proverbs 23:4-5

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." -Ecclesiastes 5:10

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." -Proverbs 22:1.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have." -Hebrews 13:5

"You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge." -Psalm 14:6

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done." -Proverbs 19:17

"A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him." -Proverbs 28:11

"A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare." -Proverbs 21:6

"The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall." -Proverbs 18:11


Sunday, 19 December 2021



     Angelika van der Linde was my much valued colleague at the University of Edinburgh during the late 1990s before moving on to a professorial position at the University of Bremen. She is a fine mathematical statistician, perhaps best known for her development  with Spiegelhalter, Best, and Carlin of the Deviance Information Criterion DIC. This widely applied method for choosing between statistical models was developed as a sophisticated approximation to AIC, as developed by my friend Hirotugu Akaike, who spent a year visiting the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1981-82). 


                                            My friends Hirotugu and Mituko Akaike


                                                ANGELIKA'S RESEARCH WORKS

         Angelika has also made pivotal contributions to the theory and application of splines. We still correspond every Christmas,. My best wishes to Angelika and her husband during the pandemic.