The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Knowledge is liberation


Wesmondshire: 'Whos keeping there kids off school tomorrow' says everything about why I'm not. #

24 May 2016
1983: a video playlist

A 1983 playlist, based on an idea from Lyrique Discorde. Links are to videos, some contain SPOILERS for Top of the Pops reruns. And best read out over MEZZOFORTE Rockall.

(More: From Duran to Aztec world, via Loch Lomond, Noo Joysey, Brighton, and King's Cross.)

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20 May 2016
Puzzled Pint in May 2016

May's Puzzled Pint puzzles went under the name of Parks and Recreation. This was a complete red herring. None of the puzzles particularly discussed recreation, and none was set in a park.

A recap of our scoring system. Each puzzle has a base of 6 pts; minus 0-2 on cultural specificity; minus 0-2 on loose answers; we'll add or subtract a mark or two on style. We'll mark up puzzles that encourage collaboration amongst the group, and mark down over-familiar methods. Average the scores across the puzzles, meta counts double, then convert to an Oxbridge degree class: First, Second, Third, or Fourth-class.

Name Trouble, a 15MB download. Ouch. Predicated on "Terry" and "Gary" being rhymes, which is a bit of a stretch. Rhymes are always tricky: very few work in every accent of the English language. For instance, Kerry does not rhyme with Dairy. Otherwise, about right for a starter puzzle: the "ends in -ry" is enough of a link. +1 for being simple, -1 for cultural assumption and a huge download. 6.

Treat Yo Self, a wordplay puzzle with the familiar trace out letters idea. Not entirely sure how "thirty" rhymed with "nerd". 6.

Cones of Dunshire, a rare logic puzzle variant, might be novel. Culturally independent until the final extraction. +2 for novelty and ingenuity. 8.

Burt Macklin FBI, a letter placement puzzle. Though the idea is familiar from somewhere, we can't say where, and haven't seen it in yonks. Loses traction for being a bit Yankeefied (Sunday Morning Live does not get out of North America.) +2 for novelty and for leaning in, -1 for cultural specificity. 7.

Food and stuff, fit the paper cutouts into the grid, solve. We expected Braille at first, then we read page 2. +1 for novelty and collaboration. 7.

A Pit into a Park find synonyms for the answer words, transform the synonyms by ^M(it)(ark), then find more synonyms. Relies on an incorrect spelling of pitta bread, and the claimed synonym barking : howling is very weak. That said, good fun. +1 for teamwork, -1 for a handwave synonym, -1 for unusual spellings. 5.

The overall average says this is a Second-class set. And, for once, we're a little disappointed; most of the puzzles were bloody good. Without the Yankee tinge in the puzzles, we could have made this a First-class month.

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6 May 2016
Election results day
Scottish Parliament, the final result:
SNP: 63 MSPs (-6)
CON: 31 (+16)
LAB: 24 (-13)
GRN: 6 (+4)
LDEM: 5 (-)

We note there's just one case of OVERHANG! seats, where a party wins more constituency seats than the list vote entitles them. That's the SNP in the Midlands, where they "only" got 7/16 of the list vote but 8 constituencies.

Senedd result (seats):
LAB 29 (-1)
PC 12 (+1)
CON 11 (-3)
UKIP 7 (+7)
LD 1 (-4)

Wales is rigged in Labour's favour. The party benefits from six OVERHANG! seats - Plaid would have three additional members, the Conservatives, Mudkip, and Lib Dems one each.

In England, little of note. A hopeless Labour council in Dudley has been removed; a competent Tory council in Worcester returned with an overall majority. It feels like Labour has done well in its core strongholds, but is falling apart at the seams. Labour's been wiped out in middle-class Jewish districts, falling to 9% in one of the Prestwich wards.

(More: Discerning vote shifts in Wales and Scotland, why we fear OFCOM might have directly affected the result, and what does Labour stand for?)

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27 April 2016
Pork pies

What election would be complete without an attack by a frightened Labour party? Richard Burden, the MP for this blog, continues the tradition.

Mr. Burden's attack piece makes unfounded claims about his erstwhile opponent Rachel Maclean. (The insinuation that she has cut and run appears divorced from the truth.) And, after this dodgy start, he continues by rubbishing the opposition's points.

If we're to believe Mr. Burden, the Conservatives are not telling the truth. But what evidence does Mr. Burden have? The word of John Clancey, leader of the Labour group on the council. And, er, that's it.

So, what about a positive vision? What does Labour stand for. If re-elected, what will Labour councillors do?


The Conservatives have produced a manifesto. We know their ideas: scrap the garden tax, free parking, a crackdown on litter...

Labour have also produced a manifesto. We know their ideas: more of the same. But Mr. Burden doesn't even have the guts to promise more of the same, not when he can make snide attacks on the opposition.

It's likely that Labour will retain this blog's ward. Goodness knows why, the previous incumbent Jess Phillips has turned out to be a disaster. She combines the insubstantial careerism of Hazel Blears, the rent-a-gob uselessness of Anthony Beaumont-Dark.

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22 April 2016
Harpic Scoured Out

A remarkable court judgement in Canada. Mike Duffy had been on trial, accused of 31 crimes against the Senate. The prosecution said he had lied about his home in PEI. The prosecution said he had conflated Senate work with personal trips. The prosecution said he had been bribed with a $90,000 payment from the prime minister Stephen Harpic (Conservative-Reform Alliance Party).

The judge said, "Bollocks."

None of the prosecution's claims stood. None of them. All 31 charges were dismissed.

About his home on Prince Edward Island, the court ruled that Duffy had asked the right questions. Stephen Harpic personally told Duffy to say his holiday home was his main home. Duffy claimed living expenses because another CRAP senator had told him to, and not be different from the other PEI senators.

There's nothing illegal about Duffy mixing work with pleasure, or employing his personal fitness coach for political ends. Everything was within the rules of the Senate at the time. The rules were so vague they may not have existed.

No, the loser in the trial was Stephen Harpic and his CRAP government. The PM's office insisted that it have early sight of a report into Duffy. The PM's office forced a payment of $90,000 into Duffy's hand, and insisted that Duffy go along with their plan. This must have been known to Stephen Harpic, a CRAP prime minister who was turfed out of post in October last year.

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18 April 2016
NPR None

Linda Holmes cheers for NPR1, an application that brings "the best of NPR" to your mobile computer.

We've tried the NPR1 application, and we've deleted it. Three reasons:

1) It's National Public Radio. Cookie-cutter audio, made to a particular template. Slow-paced, delivered in a sing-song voice, often with tinkling music in the background to distract. The presentation is frilly, and detracts from the content.

And when we get to the story, it's banal, superficial, myopic. We don't get the big picture, just anecdotes. And the plural of anecdote is not data.

National Public Radio claims to "rise above the maudlin and mundane", it aspires to be excellent. It's not. It's inferior to the BBC, to the ABC (Australia), to the CBC.

2) We don't have enough time to spend with the application. We've built up a roster of podcasts and audio from other sources, and we want to put those first. The NPR1 application requires more involvement than we can be bothered to put in.

3) The greatest sin: NPR1 is a massive battery drain. We noticed that our computer was going from a full charge to half-charge during the working day. As soon as we removed NPR1, the battery remained above 75% at hometime.

Looks like we're not the only people unhappy with the NPR1 application: the National Public Radio ethicist told announcers not to mention the application on air. The edict concluded with this baffling announcement:

"And, as always, I'm happy to discuss any aspect of this decision."
"Comments are closed."

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15 April 2016
All That Matters

RossOnRadio: Oh Wow Oldie: "Said I Loved You,But I Lied." SFO's new @981thebreeze goes beyond the 2 songs heard on stations that play Michael Bolton.

What songs by Michael Bolton get played on UK radio? And who plays them? Compare My Radio gave these figures. They cover the month to 14 April.

  1. How Can We Be Lovers 33 plays (Downtown 9, Norwich 8, Minster 7, Eagle 6, 3FM 2, Smooth 1; top 10, 1990)
  2. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You 27 plays (Magic 12, Downtown 7, Minster 3, 3FM 2, Eagle 1, West 1, Wave 1; #3, 1990)
  3. Love Is a Wonderful Thing 6 plays (Norwich 6; top 40, 1991)
  4. Soul Provider 6 plays (Downtown 6; missed single, 1989)
  5. Time Love And Tenderness 4 plays (Norwich 2, 3FM 2; top 40, 1991)
  6. Steel Bars 3 plays (Norwich 2, Downtown 1; top 20, 1992)

No spins in the past month for top 10 hits When a man loves a woman or Can I touch you there.

Usual pinch of salt: Compare My Radio uses "now playing" data published on radio stations' websites. It's only available for about 20% of UK radio stations, and about 65% of hours listening to pop music radio.

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3 April 2016
Glickoblog: World 20-20 tournament

The West Indies won the 20-20 cricket tournament, defeating Australia in the final. The West Indies made it a double when the men won their tournament, beating England with four sixes in the last over. The world 20-20 rankings are now:

      Rank   Uncertainty
IN2  1468.8  125
NZ2  1454.2  122
WI2  1398.0  130
EN2  1255.8  117
SA2  1219.3  120
AU2  1186.4  129
PK2  1058.0  112
AF2  1018.3  121
BA2   911.8  132
SL2   907.5  122
AE2   832.0  151
ZI2   809.5  139
NL2   792.2  140
SC2   780.2  140
OM2   658.4  141
KN2   615.5  164
NP2   598.3  165
HK2   574.9  130
IE2   556.5  144
NM2   485.7  165
CA2   105.7  192

Interpret these rankings: when the difference between teams' rank is greater than their combined uncertainty, the leading side is almost certain to win. So India is almost certain to beat South Africa - difference 249, combined uncertainty 245.

The West Indies's success comes after a run of failure, so we only rank them amongst the big three at the moment. The big losers from the tournament are Sri Lanka (lost four in the main draw) and Ireland (lost two and drew one in the qualifying tournament).

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