Running in 2020

I ran a lot in 2020. The increased free time caused by lockdowns (and the closure for several weeks of my local park in London forcing me to seek running routes further afield) changed my relationship to running. I went from doing a few 5km runs a week after work, and maybe a longer run on the weekend if I felt like it, to running 10k or more at a time, and running many more days. [Read More]

How much money can you save by riding your bike?

How much money can you save cycling instead of using public transport? This blog shows what I spent and what I saved while using cycling as my primary form of transport for 1,516 days, or just shy of 4 years and 2 months. This covers from when I first bought a bike on 30 June 2016 to 23 August 2020, the day before I packed my bike away as part of my move to Berlin. [Read More]

Wikipedia, Coronavirus and BLM

Wikipedia is a potentially useful indicator of the topics people online are interested in. Nothing seems to drive traffic to an individual’s Wikipedia entry like their death, and the top articles list is always I used the pageviews package to download statistics on the 1000 most viewed Wikipedia pages for the first seven months of 2020 (up until July 30th). I’ve grouped Wikipedia pages into 4 categories, based on their subject: [Read More]

Introduction to the threesixtygiving R Package

This article describes the threesixtygiving R package for the 360Giving platform. 360Giving is a data standard for publishing information about charitable grant giving in the UK. The ability to search for and query different data is similar to the GrantNav tool created by 360Giving. There are several advantages to using the software package instead of GrantNav: It lets you retrieve 360Giving data, search and summarise that data, create charts and tables and write text using a single file. [Read More]

Disabled People's Voting Patterns in the 2019 General Election

In line with a previous post summarising disabled people’s votes in the 2016 EU Referendum and the 2017 General Election, I have created, using the just released British Election Study wave 19 data. I’m hoping to dig into this dataset more in the coming weeks (along with everyone else interested in UK politics), and produce some more consistent comparisons with previous elections but in the meantime, here’s my quick and dirty, written from a Parisian cafe analysis of how disabled people voted in the 2019 general election. [Read More]

Running speed and weather patterns

I run a lot in the park near my house, and I was curious what impact weather and air quality has on how fast I run. I used the rStrava package to download my runs, filtered out longer workouts, and linked them to air quality data for Victoria Park, using the openair package. My primary interest is in the effect of temperature and air pollution on running speed. [Read More]

At the Wellcome Collection

Why is the Wellcome Collection presenting exhibits with uncritical pseudoscientific claims? The Wellcome Collection is the free museum and library operated by the Wellcome Trust, a hugely important medical and scientific research funder and one of the wealthiest charitable foundations in the world. The mission of the Wellcome Collection “is to be a place that challenges the ways people think and feel about health by connecting science, medicine, life and art”, according a document produced for its 10th anniversary. [Read More]

Introduction to the {ukpolice} package

The ukpolice R package downloads data from the UK Police public data API, the full docs of which are available at It is now available on CRAN, so can be installed with install.packages("ukpolice"). The API uses a ‘leaky bucket’ rate limiter, which allows for 15 requests per second with a burst of 30. This allows for 15 requests each second, but up to 30 in a single second at one go. [Read More]

The overlap between incapacity and cost-of-disability benefits

Earlier this week the DWP secretary Amber Rudd announced a series of changes to the disability benefits system, including scrapping re-assessment for pensioners and possibly combining the assessment for the two main working-age disability benefits: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a means-tested benefit providing financial support to unemployed disabled people, and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a needs-tested benefit to help with the additional cost of living associated with disability. [Read More]

Potatoes in World Literature

Potatoes are an undeniably important vegetable, far more important to human history than say, brocolli. The History and Social Influence of the Potato is 768 pages long, and “an extraordinary book, like no other, a vast compendium of curious fact and passionately recounted social history that calls to mind an unexpected but completely satisfying fusion of The Anatomy of Melancholy and Fernand Braudel’s Capitalism and Material Life”, according to Angela Carter. [Read More]